Colombia Purdue Initiative — CPI

Juan Quintero Florez


Juan Quintero Florez is a Medellín high school student with almost the same number of dreams as extracurricular activities. After school, he participates in courses such as journalism, natural sciences, and robotics. During his free time, he likes to read, practice his English skills, study math, and play sports, especially volleyball.  So it is not surprising that he was among the top ten students (out of 1800) in his robotics program who earned the privilege to travel to Purdue for a 2-week experience with the 2016 Gifted Education Resource Institute (GERI) Summer Camp – an experience he deeply cherishes.

Juan is in the seventh grade in the Institución Educativa Madre Laura, located in Buenos Aires, Medellín. In school, he and his twin brother, Mateo, take turns as the first and second top students in their class.

In 2015 , Juan, Mateo and the other students who were involved in the robotics extracurricular course participated in a competition organized by Biblioteca de Medellín. The challenge was to design and build a prototype robot that could help alleviate a social or environmental problem. By the end of the year, the final product was sent to a panel of judges from Ruta N (Medellín), which evaluated the projects and gave each team a score. The team was invited to participate in “Encuentro Horizontes: la más grande aventura” in November, 2015 (Watch video). During this event, the students engaged in games of science and technology. At the conclusion, the winners of the robotics competition were revealed.  The two teams with the highest scores were rewarded with a trip to the GERI Summer Camp at Purdue. Juan’s was one of these two teams. As a fun fact, Mateo, his brother, was also one of the lucky winners (purely by chance!).

Nine of the ten students who won, joined us here at Purdue and spent their two weeks of camp with more than 100 young people from around the globe immersed in the GERI program’s social and academic activities.  Our friends from Medellín, however, also enjoyed a workshop on entrepreneurship provided by Purdue’s Burton Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and unique research activities led by our Colombian graduate students.

When asked about his experience at Purdue, Juan commented that although he recognizes the academic value of his visit, his favorite parts were getting to know people from so many different cultures and the amazing places he visited, such as the university campus and Chicago.

Back in Medellín, Juan and Mateo have become a model for their classmates. They were asked by their teachers to share their story with every class in their school and were publicly recognized for their achievements. Juan thinks this experience has been a motivation for other students to join extracurricular groups and to be interested in science, engineering and technology.

As for the future, Juan dreams of a scholarship that will allow him to study what he wants and where he wants. He is interested in the field of engineering.  While he has not yet narrowed his focus to a specific major, he knows he wants to help the environment, study outer space, help other people and develop mathematical logic skills. He would like to study at Purdue and work at a company like Facebook or Google. When we asked him why, he says for the nice working environment and the possibility to help other people. But above all of these professional goals, his highest aspiration for himself is to be a good person.

Juan is grateful for the love, support and friendship of many, but in particular, he is thankful for his parents who encouraged him to study hard and be a better person. He also remembers Carol Handwerker, Carolyn Percifield, Kristin Seward, and Cesar Pareja for their constant support during his stay at Purdue and how they made him feel safe and welcome.


Mateo and Juan Quintero


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