The reasons Colombian native Santiago Iguaran, who will soon be the first person in his family to earn a college degree, came to the United States to study are straightforward. He wanted opportunities that weren’t available to him in South America and dreamed of providing his parents with a better lifestyle..
When he arrived in America six years ago, Iguaran, then 18 years old, spent hours in the library, teaching himself English, reading textbooks, listening to audiobooks. After two years, he passed the English proficiency test and began working toward an associate’s degree at St. Petersburg College. Even though he had passed the proficiency exam, language barriers proved troublesome. But he remained focused on his goals and earned an associate’s degree magna cum laude.
His success at SPC led to a full scholarship at USF, where he has thrived. He has been on the dean’s list each of the three semesters at USF. He received a study abroad scholarship in 2013, which allowed him to travel to Costa Rica. He learned about business practices in a similar – but different – culture, something he never dreamed of doing.
In 2011, his home country experienced one of the biggest disasters in its history due to an especially heavy rainy season. Thousands of families lost everything. Troubled by this news, Iguaran hosted fundraising events and canned food and clothing drives. Working with the government, he shipped supplies that helped nearly 100 Colombian families. He says the response from those receiving the basic supplies was one of the most moving moments of his life.