By Timothy Fanning
Vanessa Ferrer spent tireless hours helping to provide opportunities for high education to impoverished and indigenous women in Latin America.
For that the USF St. Petersburg alumna received this year’s “Women of Peace” award for co-founding and co-directing Para Adelante, a nonprofit that “provides funding degrees in higher education to impoverished women in Latin America who will use education as a catalyst for change.”
The scholarship covers tuition, school fees and supplies for their studies. In addition, it also covers transportation to class, housing, food, tutoring services and childcare.
The award, given by Women’s Peace Power Foundation, goes to women involved in grassroots projects that work to bring peace to the everyday lives of women and their families.
According to Para Adlante’s website, Ferrer grew up in a traditional Cuban family in Hialeah, Florida, and was “raised in a home that place a great emphasis on giving back and helping those that are underprivileged.”
She received her Masters of Business Administration from USF St. Petersburg in 2014, and has worked as a tax accountant for over 10 years, where she specializes in domestic, international and state local tax accounting systems.
In 2013, she took a social entrepreneurship in emerging markets course, where she studied abroad in the high-poverty region of San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala, with entrepreneuring professor Karin Braunsberger.
There she worked with local, indigenous women-owned cooperatives to develop business and marketing strategies. Ferrer’s experience in Guatemala inspired her to start Para Adelante.
“I am beyond humbled and inspired to be here with all the other candidates,” Ferrer said in her Nov. 4 acceptance speech. “It just makes me want to push and spread the word that much more. Because that way not only do we better these boys and girls, but we better the world.”
Above image COURTESY of USFSP