Ricardo’s Road to Penn

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we need to do is keep walking.”

Buddhist Proverb 

Ricardo in Progreso Beach, Yucatán, Mexico


I was born and raised in Mérida, Yucatán. I finished high school and started studying business administration in my hometown. In my second year of studies, as I went along with a “normal life” in my social context, I realized that I was facing the wrong direction. Business was meaningless, after all, the end of work was profit. 

Life Questions

When I was 20, my days were full of questions. Who am I? What am I doing here? Where am I going? Is there a right direction? This led me to drop my (brief and new) writing ambitions and pursue philosophy studies.


Two years and many applications later, I was majoring in philosophy at the University of Michigan. If you ask me, I have no idea how I ended up there, I just submitted applications to random places.

I had an incredible time: I made friends from all over the world, took a Zen Buddhism course, explored ancient philosophies and ethics, “performed” Swedish songs by accident in an auditorium, became a yoga teacher, started meditating, and created a project to promote literacy in Mexico in my summers. 

In Michigan, I found my right direction: not the ‘I’. I mean, we can obsess with ourselves, our “contributions” to the world, our “ideal” path or work, or our “ideal” of who we are, yet in my case,  this was just blinding me. I decided to focus on helping others so that they could have better opportunities in life, and left the rest to space and time.


I became interested in education (partly from my project) and since I had no knowledge or experience in education and needed sponsorship to work outside of Mexico, I looked where I could acquire knowledge, experience, and future opportunities.

I applied to some international focused programs and decided to attend Penn partly because it promoted the IEDP as a program focused on trying to achieve equality and providing educational opportunities for others, while other universities stated that the mission of their programs was to “prepare you to lead”, “teach you professional skills,” or “train you to become the future.” Penn focused on what others gained with your studies and not only on what you gained. 


The decision was simple: I was facing my right direction and I saw the connections. In my opinion, there’s not much else to do. If you know where you are going, if you are facing your right direction, then there’s not much to think. You just need to keep walking, wherever the path leads. 

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