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.