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María Artemisa Léniz’s Flight Plan

At 82, this civil engineer and former student of Santiago College executes quite unusual activities:  she practices water skiing, has jumped on parachute and is an aviator. She has three daughters and seven grandchildren.  She devotes most of her time to her family, especially her grandchildren.  With them she shares her hobbies, practices sports and talks about life.

“Give a chance to the younger generations, I am too old for this sort of things,” she repeated several times when we phoned her to ask for an interview.  She was never quite convinced of wanting to talk about herself; however, after much insistence, we convinced her that her story was worth sharing.

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SC Students Visited Google Offices in the United States

A group of 10 students from Santiago College 8th and 10th grades travelled to the United States last August 2nd to visit Stanford University.

The purpose of this trip – which lasts approximately two weeks – is to experience university life in said institution, attend several courses and lessons and share with people from different countries and cultures.

Taking advantage of the trip, the students visited Google offices in California, where they received a talk given by a group of Latin-American people who work there, four of which were Chilean and one was even a former student of Santiago College!  This caused great surprise in our students.

It was a very enriching experience to see first-hand that some students from this school have reached great world companies, such as this. These students now believe that they can also do it.

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Mónica Rubio: The effort that took her to the stars

The outstanding national astronomer has had an important career in the world of astrophysics. She has been acknowledged in several countries in the world for her important contributions to science. Today, 43 years after having left Santiago College, she speaks of the values delivered by the school that were critical for her success.  

Mónica Rubio studied at Santiago College when the school was for girls only.  She finished school in 1972, the year that boys began to join it. However, as boys joined the school at pre-school level, the girls continued to have full control of the SC.  One of the large advantages was – she remembers – that they didn’t need to share the sport fields with football matches.  The fields were fully available for the girls to play rounders or dodge-ball as it was traditional at the time.

Mónica has devoted her life to studying the galaxies and the space. She studied a Master Program in Astronomy in Universidad de Chile and subsequently a PhD program in Astrophysics and Special Techniques in the University of Paris. From 2008 to 2014 she was Director of the Conicyt Astronomy Program where she was in charge of defining its mission and planning it as a strategic science development area in Chile.  She has been guest professor in important universities in the world, such as Harvard, Columbia, Arizona and Yale in the United States; Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS), the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in France, and Max Planck Institute in Germany.

Apart from the many important positions she has held in the world of Astronomy and the countless times she has been awarded prizes for her broad knowledge in this area, she was recently distinguished by Nature, a scientific journal that published a study on one of her last discoveries:   capsules where stars are born in galaxies with few ingredients to develop them.  “Being in Nature is like receiving a gold medal in the Olympics,” says Monica, whose research has been published twice in that journal.  

The brilliant career developed by our former student has been partially thanks to the encouragement given by Santiago College to always do your best.  “You are responsible for doing things according to your own capacities, so more important than the final goal, it is essential to work and strive for them,” she stated.

- Which were the values delivered by the school that have helped you most in your professional and personal life?

- Particularly, I believe that honesty, perseverance and responsibility are the values that characterize the SC school. Giving the best you have, work hard to reach the goal and if it is not reached, then be satisfied because you did everything possible to reach it.  If it worked, great!  If it didn’t, also great.

- Which are the best memories you have from your school times?

- What I always remember of the school times was playing rounders in the Los Leones sport field. In those days we were only girls. As soon as we finished our lunch, we went all in a group to the fields and played rounders during the whole break. Of course, we also had a very good time in our class outings and in some very specific activities where I participated, such as some debates that we made in History.  I also enjoyed the cooking lessons and handmade crafts.

- What are the tools delivered by the school that have contributed most to your professional career until today?

- First of all and essentially:  the English language. Second, perseverance.

- How would you define the students who graduate from Santiago College? Which do you think is their mark or the main characteristics that make they stand out?

- I would say that most important is that they are tremendously tolerant, because they are used to diversity, both religious and cultural, and accept it.  I think that SC is a school where children and all students are faced to live with students from other cultures and religions; this makes that cultural diversity very enriching and very similar to the actual world.  Additionally, I think that they are very self-confident, they know how to reflect on things and they are not easily scared.

- What do you value most of SC and are most grateful for?

- The English language.  I think it has been essential in my professional life to have a very good English and academic culture level, also the love for studying and making things well.  And as I was saying at the beginning, what I value most is this imprint the school gave us of doing our best, of trying to get the best of you. One has the responsibility of making things according to your own capacities and to work and strive and devote to things is very important, even more than the final goal.

- Today we’ve changed our home but the school remains the same, which do you think are the roots that should not be lost in the new home?

- Apart from the traditions and values that gave rise to the school, one of the things that I think should not be lost is the compassionate spirit, the connection with the reality of our surroundings and our country, not to live in a bubble. In my times there were many families from different cultures and social economic origins and I think that it is very important to keep that up.

In the third place, I think that academic excellence is something that we should always maintain.

 

 

 

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Jorge Machicao: An example of tenacity

In the 135th anniversary of Santiago College, this businessman and former SC student told us some anecdotes of his school days, a time he remembers with much fondness and gratefulness. He also referred to the great contributions that the values delivered by the school have meant for him in his life.

Jorge Machicao was in one of his best moments in life.  He was making efforts to bring Toyotomi stoves to Chile and it was becoming a great business, as they were being sold very well in the local market turning him into a successful businessman at only 47 years of age. He was a very healthy person, with no vices, and playing football three times a week … He was full of projects ahead.

One night in May 2008, his fears were confirmed.  Browsing through the web he confirmed that the physical symptoms he was suffering for some years – he couldn’t lift the right foot well, he didn’t have strength to go up the stairs, he had fallen in the court when playing football-, where nothing less than the symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (LAS).  This is a rare neuromuscular degenerative disease originating from some cells in the nervous system that gradually reduce their operational capacity and die, causing a progressive muscular paralysis.

The impact of this news was so strong, all his projects collapsed when he realized the radical change that was coming. It was a key moment that divided his life into before and after the illness.

However, the former SC student was not defeated by his disease. His huge desire to live, his tenacity and his self-discipline helped him to go along and not to surrender. He decided that while his body permitted it, he would continue to live just as he had always done it, accompanying his children and his wife in everything and enjoying every moment as much as possible.

Today, 50 years old, Jorge can only communicate through a computer that reads his eyes. However, he continues to go to meetings and visits Santiago College whenever he can. He loves the school and the school spirit which, as he says – delivered him the tools that have helped him overcome difficulties and “live life with passion.”

- Which are the values delivered by the school that have helped you more in your professional and personal life?

- I think that Santiago College delivers many values, among which I can mention the following:

Self-discipline. I don’t know if this continues now or how you call it, but when we had our study time in the hall, we had to use our time efficiently without a teacher controlling us, and, as it has happened later in my work life, I haven’t had a boss in 24 years!  Without considering the boss at home, though.

Tolerance in terms of races, religious diversity, social difference, etc.  I had to go through this in university, when some friends who came from very catholic schools determined that there was only one morality and it was precisely what they had been taught, or Jews from fanatic schools who did not mix with other people; they dressed with military jackets; or Arabs, who did not watch some films because they transmitted Jewish propaganda. I had Jewish, Catholic and Muslim school mates and our SC spirit always prevailed over our differences. I think that the ecumenical ceremonies with representatives from various religions helped a lot in that sense. Some of our school mates had a very different reality. There were foreigners, etc.  All this crated a broad mind in us, something very useful in the current world and particularly in my former days of work when I was travelling all over the world during five months in the year.

- Finally, and probably most important is that we learnt to live life with passion.

- Which are the best memories you have from your school days?

- The unending football matches with Miss Tránsito Gatica pulling your sideburn because you were late; the study trip.  Even though the school was considered a girl school in those days, we beat other “macho” schools in football.

- Which are the tools delivered by the school that have helped you more to face your illness and cope with it as best as possible?

- I think that having a broad mind, living life with passion and tenacity, and mainly being a Colo-Colo fan.

- How would you define the students who graduate from Santiago College?  Which do you think is their mark or the main characteristics that make them stand out?

- I’m going to repeat my previous words. I think that being broad-minded is a value in itself and I think that I identify it in most of my classmates. Another characteristic is self-discipline.  Santiago College strived to imprint in us a very deep and powerful academic touch.

- What do you value most and are most grateful for the SC?

- An imprint that is as straight as a train line and invisible if you can say so. My mother graduated from this school 67 years ago and I did the same 34 years ago and my children are going to exit school in 2019 and 2022, I think I can identify the same general pattern. The same love for school, the same broadness of mind and self-discipline.

- Today we’ve changed our home but the school remains the same, which do you think are the roots that should not be lost in the new home?

- We have been about three years and a half here and apart from having left behind the beautiful building in Los Leones, the fish pond, etc., the school spirit is the same, academic excellence is the same and I don’t know if we need much more than that.

 

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Tomás Bercovich: The prize that led him to success

The former SC student has developed an important activity in the business world, accumulating some failures but also many triumphs, among which, the Cuponatic.com business is certainly the most important of all. This on-line discount company has grown significantly in the last years, leaving Tomás on the summit of his career at only 33 years of age.

His tight agenda has him attending meeting after meeting, permanently connected to the mail and stuck to the telephone, from which he cannot keep apart for one second, as it is the means that has him informed about everything that is happening in the different companies he manages.  “The thing is that when you are your own boss, you work twice as hard” - said Tomás - but also “you have much more fun.

Tomás Bercovich has entrepreneurship in his veins.  At his short age he has already faced four business challenges of his own, and succeeded only at the third attempt.  His first failures were very fruitful, he said. They taught him to capitalize from his learning process and understand that failures are part of victories.  “You learn to cope with bad times; you begin to lose fear and understand how everything operates. I think that frustrations will never end, they are part of the game and at the end everything depends on how you handle them,” he stated.

Tomás graduated from Santiago College in 2000.  He is a Civil Engineer from the Pontificia Universidad Católica, took some courses in the University of Warwick in the UK and graduated from the ECLA program in Columbia University, USA.  He is currently owner of Cuponatic.com, which offers discounts for different products and services and is present in eight important cities of Chile and three Latin-American countries: Mexico, Peru and Colombia. He is also board member at Forex Chile, a financial company providing different financial options, and Zhetapricing, providers and developers of integral management solutions leading to the maximization of profits. All these achievements made him qualify for the Joven Emprendedor 2008 award granted by Diario Financiero and Endeavor, and for the acknowledgement as Joven Exitoso 2011, granted by that same newspaper together with Audi.  

According to Tomás, discipline, perseverance, the high level of demand at school and the excellent English language were the ingredients that made him succeed. But, above all, he assures that the main secret is to do what you love, because “when you do what you like, you have fun, you are motivated and you do things well, and by doing things well, it is most probable that you succeed, at the end it’s a virtuous circle”, he stated.

- Which were the values delivered by the school that have helped you more in your professional and personal life?

- I would say that mainly discipline. The school was quite strict in this regard, both about how you dressed and how you worked. This training helps a lot in the working world, because only few people comply with requirements, only a few commit to something and really fulfill it, and I think that SC gives students a very good training in this regard.

Another characteristic that I love of the school is diversity and tolerance. There are Catholics, Jews, Protestants and students who do not believe in anything, and they are all equal, they all share everything the same way.  Perhaps, when you are at school you don’t value this much, but afterwards you realize that there are people who studied in more religious schools who are not so tolerant.  I am Jew and at university when I said that I was Jew, many looked at me with a face as saying “you can’t be a Jew,” as if they had never seen a Jew in their lives.

- What are the best memories you have from your school days?

- The senior year was very entertaining. In my times, they let us go and have lunch out of school, and all the events organized in the school were lots of fun:  the school week, all end-of-year ceremonies, graduation, everything.  The study trip -even though my generation was the last one to go to the north of Chile instead of Washington-, but we had a super time anyway. All sport events, championships, Saturday matches, all this was great at school, including the discipline, the sports, sharing with other schools, knowing people, etc.

What tools delivered by the school have contributed most to your professional career today?

- The English language by all means!  I have to interact much with other people, especially with people from the United States, and only a few people in Chile reach the English level we have, that the school gives you. This has been essential.

Mathematics also helped me much.  The level of mathematics at SC is much higher than that of other schools. When we began to study in the university we were much above the average. This also forms your brain and adds value.

- How would you define the students that graduate from Santiago College? What do you think is their mark or main characteristic that makes them stand out?

- In general, students who graduate from Santiago College are tolerant, with a good balance between discipline and capacity. We know a little bit of everything.  I think that a Santiago College student is capable of adapting, contributing value and interacting in different scenarios.  We are prepared in all areas.

- What do you like most in SC and are most grateful for?

- My friends. My life friends are those from school, I see them every week, I always talk to them. It is something that occurs in all generations, I also see this in my younger brothers, who are very friendly with their friends; we all have a very close relationship.

- Today we are moving our home, but the school remains the same, which are the tools that you think we should not lose in the new facilities?

- One of the main characteristics of Santiago College is that it is a school of traditions.  I think that this is the basis: ceremonies, school days, sports, etc.  I think traditions define the school. Finally, it is a school with lots of history and this makes it better. There must be a reason for the school to have remained alive for so long.  All this time has led to improve and adjust things and optimize everything: education, processes, etc.

 

 

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