Jump to:Page Content
Bolivia Research Trip
Find more photos like this on Scholar Community
Perhaps the greatest gift Jack Kent Cooke has given us is a community of motivated and like-minded scholars with whom we can develop relationships.
- Thomas Chupein
The collaboration between Jack Kent Cooke Scholars Fernando Balderrama and Thomas Chupein exemplifies what is possible when smart, motivated young people are brought together – a hallmark of the Foundation’s Scholar community. The two men organized a 15-day study tour to Bolivia where they explored the country’s political economy, indigenous peoples, and rural development.
Working with one of his professors at the University of California, Berkeley, Thomas reached out to fellow Scholar and native-Bolivian, Fernando, to design the program.
In all, they visited four distinct regions in Bolivia - Santa Cruz, Potosi, Cochabamba and La Paz, as well as a New Year’s celebration in the famed Uyuni Salt Flats - each region possessing its own unique local history, culture, and political economic structure. They also met with local NGOs, community leaders, and government representatives to research issues related to agriculture, labor, natural resources, and disparate political movements.
“In looking back at this experience, we both realize our increased capacity to conduct and organize research in order to support policies and movements that seek to improve the human condition. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has supported our scholarly achievements by instilling the confidence and encouragement necessary to undertake leadership positions,” says Thomas.
As a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship recipient, Thomas earned his bachelor’s degree in international development at the University of California, Berkeley. He is now a Graduate Scholar, attending Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Fernando, a Graduate Scholarship recipient, completed an MSc degree from the London School of Economics and is now pursuing a doctoral degree in economics from the University of Maryland.
“Perhaps the greatest gift Jack Kent Cooke has given us is a community of motivated and like-minded scholars with whom we can develop relationships,” says Thomas. “The annual retreat brought Fernando and I together to share our interests, thus acting as the catalyst to this entire endeavor. We are both proud and thankful to be a part of the Jack Kent Cooke family of scholars and look forward to future academic and professional collaborations.”