A Conversation with Minerva Student Guillermo

MEET Guillermo, A STUDENT IN THE CLASS OF 2022 | Dec 18, 2021

Quick Facts

Guillermo Sobral Marsicano

Montevideo, Uruguay


Intended Major & Concentrations
Business — Scalable Growth
Social Sciences — Designing Societies


Why did you choose to attend Minerva?
Initially, I was drawn to Minerva by the possibility to study in seven different countries throughout my undergrad because I have always been a big fan of cultural exchange and international exploration. I felt there was so much more of the world that I needed to discover, and at this specific time in my life, the ability to live in seven different countries was a really exciting opportunity. Ultimately, I chose to enroll at Minerva after I attended Ascent, Minerva’s admitted students weekend. There I was able to meet all my potential future classmates who came from all different walks of life, and I realized I was going to be part of a small environment of super-driven, exceptionally talented people. I was sure my Minerva experience was going to be much more enriching than any other experience I could get at any different university.

What do you like about Minerva’s academics?
I was very privileged throughout high school because all of my classes had a maximum of 25 students. I was always able to get support from my teachers and I enjoyed the small classroom atmosphere. When I was applying to universities, I was worried about switching to a large classroom setting because I knew how beneficial my high school experience had been. When I learned that Minerva has a cap of 22 students per class, I was reassured that I would continue to be able to have personal connections with my professors, which I have been able to develop. For example, one of my Business professors constantly brings in real-world examples of her professional work experience, and we, as students, get to ask questions and learn from her perspective. In my opinion, this atmosphere is only possible because we are a small group of students in each class and we know each other well.

Additionally, I didn’t like memorizing and regurgitating information, even though I was good at it. I didn’t feel like it was a proper learning experience, which became apparent when I was taking the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams in my senior year of high school. Instead of being asked to repeat information from the textbook, I was asked to use information from an example and implement different concepts from the curriculum. This was a revealing experience because I realized I could retain the concepts I learned in class and apply them to a variety of cases rather than simply repeating the information. Minerva’s academics are also based on this pedagogy and every class premise and apply that type of approach in every class.”

What is a problem you would like to address in the world?
One of the issues I care about the most is human trafficking, especially in the region where I am originally from. The different dimensions of this problem are immense and complex, and I know it is not possible to produce a universal solution by myself. I would, however, like to be involved in teams that work with institutions that collaborate across borders to mitigate this criminal activity and provide proper care and guarantees for victims. Possessing a high level of cultural dexterity would be key for this, and I feel like I can apply the abilities I’ve developed at Minerva to help build those bridges across organizations and governments in different places of the world. Human rights issues require strong institutional support, and, unfortunately, some regions of the world still have to catch up with current legislation and protocols for these cases.

What is a civic project that changed how you think?
During my first year in San Francisco, I worked with the San Francisco Department of Public Health in a program that prescribed food as a type of medicine for high blood pressure patients in marginalized communities. From this project, I realized that one problem could have multiple solutions and that instinctively, I would often default to the closest, most familiar solution. Before this experience, I had no idea that prescribing food would be so effective for high blood pressure. When I saw that it was possible to enable this change and not follow the standard method, I realized there are multiple solutions that can be more cost-effective, accessible, and tailored to a community if we think outside the box and question our assumptions.

What would you tell another student who is considering Minerva?
Do not be scared at how selective Minerva is. Minerva is a calling in a way. If it feels like the place that you belong, if it feels like you dreamed of the perfect university and it suddenly came true, or if it feels like the right step in your educational path however nonconventional it may be, then apply. One caution I would have is, however enriching it may be to move around every few months, it is taxing, so consider how willing you are to commit to that level of instability.

How is Minerva shaping the future, in your own words?
One thing that is very striking to me is how diverse the Minerva community is in socioeconomic terms. There are people here from all cultures and walks of life but also all socioeconomic backgrounds. I believe all institutions should take a similar approach in admissions and financial aid where one’s merits should be the sole factor on the ability to attend university without an economic barrier. I have more classmates who come from a historically underrepresented socioeconomic background than classmates who traditionally have been able to afford to go to university. If more universities would provide need-based and need-blind financial aid as Minerva is doing, the future would look really different because quality education would be more accessible, ensuring that the leaders of the future are not just an elite group.

What else would you like to share about Minerva?
Something many people don’t realize when we talk about living in seven different cities or using the city as a campus model is just how all-encompassing that is. If I would have chosen a university that had a campus, my options would have been confined to whatever I was able to find in that campus and there are a lot of external factors that influence that. The people that I would meet, sports I could practice, extracurricular activities I could get involved in, the movies I could watch, would all be constrained by the campus or what was available in the vicinity. At Minerva, we are not visitors to the city. We study in the city, but we also live there and we often live in the heart of the city. The amount of different opportunities are exponentially bigger than institutions that are campus-based. This aspect of Minerva is sometimes not apparent but it has been a really big part of my Minerva experience. The people that I have met, extracurricular activities I have engaged with, the projects I have worked on—all of that has shaped who I am and who I will be in the future.

What skills or lessons did you learn in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program that have been useful in your studies at Minerva?
The whole Theory of Knowledge course in Year 1 was quite eye-opening to me, and at Minerva, I have expanded on this knowledge by implementing the skills I’ve learned in the Cornerstone Courses, such as critical thinking and construction of arguments. Through the process of writing my IAs and EE, I also gathered experience in investigation methods and research compilation, which came in handy later at Minerva.

What advice do you have for a prospective Model United Nations (MUN) student about Minerva?
I would recommend that they include their MUN experience as part of their accomplishments section. Being able to understand different positions surrounding an issue and negotiate accordingly is a skill that Minerva focuses on teaching. Showing that you are already interested in and have past experience with effective collaboration will show Minerva an idea of your profile. Remember to quantify your experiences, as well.

If you were inspired by Guillermo’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.