Acceso Training Center – Diana Barboza, General Manager
If there was one word to describe how Diana Barboza feels about her work, it would have to be passionate. Raised in the city of Cartagena, Diana decided to apply for the role of General Manager because she desired to be part of a process that allows young people to achieve their dreams through education. Diana holds a degree in industrial engineering and also an MBA, but for Diana, social consciousness has always been a top priority. She highlights that everyone needs to do their part to improve the community, or contribute their “grain of sand,” in her own words.
“Inequality rates can only be brought down by taking initiative… It’s truly incredible to see these students move ahead in life.”
A day at the training center for Diana begins by passing through all of the classrooms and offering salutations to each of the students, because Diana is determined to make each and every one of them feel as if they belong to a family. She then typically holds a meeting with her co-workers concerning practical issues and supervises activities occurring at the training center. When students appear to be experiencing problems, Diana feels a personal obligation to solve them, citing issues that can range from health to even household abuse.
“All jobs have their difficulties, but in each difficultly lies an opportunity. What we try to do with these difficulties is transform them into challenges that motivate us. Sometimes we don’t have as much money as we would like, sometimes we have problems with students. Yet in life one has to remain positive, because if you don’t, life can pass you by.”
When asked if the training center has truly made an impact, Diana cites the statistics: since opening three years ago nearly 3,000 students have been educated and over 1,500 have found stable employment. “This indicates that at least 1,500 families now have a salary coming into their homes, improving their quality of life.”
Regarding future operations, Diana hopes that Acceso will continue to educate students and provide them with employment opportunities, as well as develop a center to foster entrepreneurship. By continuing its positive work, the training center can provide a model to be replicated in other locations in Colombia, as well as in other countries across Latin America.
But in some ways, the international reach of the center is already apparent: “One of our graduates is playing major league baseball in the United States. There are waitresses who are in Europe today working on cruise ships. There are students today who even work for Acceso. They are moving forward, and they can achieve their dreams.”