Economic mobility for Ecuadorian children
College student Nayeli Picón develops Proyecto Dalia, an educational nonprofit for low-income communities.
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Daughter to immigrant parents, an Ecuadorian father, and a Honduran mother, Nayeli Picón, a first-generation student, is navigating academia while launching her educational nonprofit, Proyecto Dalia, which provides Ecuadorian low-income communities and children with educational opportunities that will lead to economic mobility.
Picón is a senior at La Salle University, double majoring in international business and finance. She is the president of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), which promotes Latin American cultural awareness and understanding, and is a member of the Business Leadership Fellows Program. The New York native got inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, La Salle’s international business honor society.
The Ecuadorian Honduran student secured her first experience in corporate with an internship at Johnson & Johnson as a Global Functions Finance Co-Op.
Nayeli shares more of her story in an interview with AL DÍA.
While in high school, Nayeli knew she wanted to pursue a business degree, and during her college selection process focused on universities with international business programs. La Salle was the first college she visited, noticing she would thrive in a smaller setting, ultimately deciding to apply to the university because of its 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
“I feel like there was more diversity compared to the other schools I was looking to attend,” she admits, noting that you don’t need to know what career you want to pursue while in college, something she realized after taking a few finance courses and deciding to take an additional major, finance.
As the president of OLAS, she focuses on promoting diversity and awareness on campus. This role has allowed her to develop leadership skills and learn her leadership style. OLAS is an inclusive organization that welcomes students willing to learn and celebrate Latino culture. She adds that those interested in learning Spanish and want to practice their Spanish are welcome to join.
Nayeli is also a member of the Business Leadership Fellows Program, which allowed her to obtain her first corporate experience as an intern at Johnson & Johnson. She applied for the internship during the pandemic and got to “experience a company culture where diversity is respected and celebrated,” assures Picón, who received an offer to extend her internship, which she accepted, working for J&J for a year. This internship reassured her that finance was the right career path for her, just not in healthcare.
“I enjoyed the learning opportunities and the connections I was able to make,” emphasized Nayeli, admitting she was inspired to start her nonprofit Proyecto Dalia because of her experience at J&J.
Nayeli was inspired by her late grandmother, Elia, and her late cousin, Davis, both deceased due to cancer. She combined their names, creating Proyecto Dalia—influenced by education advocate Elia’s legacy as an educator that provided education for low-income communities, she felt compelled to impart change in Ecuador, one student at a time.
“I’ve traveled to Ecuador multiple times. I’ve seen the different realities that people or individuals have over there,” she explained. “I’ve always had this urge to do something bigger than just go, but try to help them in any way.”
In November 2022, Proyecto Dalia was set in motion partnering with different nonprofits and organizations in Ecuador to render services from toy drives and health checks to providing meal kits. This allowed her to establish herself in different communities while trying to build a team to support her vision. Even though these services were not in the education realm, it allowed Picón to connect with low-income families and realize how imperative it was for her to support this community.
“I want to first navigate and see what I need to learn about it and make connections,” she commented.
Nayeli envisions being able to finance low-income students' school supplies, provide assistance to afford school uniforms, and eventually facilitate high-quality education in Ecuador.
Picón is still in the early stages of her nonprofit but is working on establishing and acquiring U.S. sponsorships that will allow someone in the U.S. to sponsor a child in Ecuador. Although Ecuador has a public and private education system, with the public system being government funded and in poor conditions, she hopes to be able to transfer students to private schools where they can obtain a high-quality education and attain economic mobility.
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