Friends UC, Our Ally Foundation in the North
Based in the US, this non-profit corporation provides a series of initiatives that support the university being at the forefront of higher education institutions in Latin America.
Every year, a group of North Americans and Chileans close to the Universidad Católica de Chile meet in Chile or New York to discuss the future of the Chilean university.
They make up Friends of Catholic University in Chile, Inc. (Friends UC), a non-profit corporation that transfers resources, knowledge and experience from the United States to Chilean higher education through UC Chile.
The foundation directors meet twice a year: one semester in Chile and another semester in New York. However, during the pandemic, the annual board meetings had to be suspended.
In May 2022, after almost 3 years, the organization was able to hold an in-person meeting in Chile.
"I congratulate you for being at the Catholic University. I went to the Catholic University, graduated from the School of Law, and I am proud to have studied here, and I hope that you are also proud of this place, which is fantastic, it is a unique university."
These were some things Sava Thomas, president of Friends UC, said during the meeting.
An Activity-Filled Visit
The activities began with a colloquium on the constituent process, entitled "Chile: the beginning of the end of the constitutional road and the scenarios that are opening up."
It was attended by:
- Sebastián Soto and Patricio Zapata, faculty of the Faculty of Law.
- Valeria Palanza and Julieta Suárez-Cao, professors and researchers at the Institute of Political Science.
In the colloquium, the faculty shared their views on the process of drafting a constitution for Chile. Patricio Donoso, Provost of Institutional Management, served as the moderator.
Since its creation, Friends UC provides the following scholarships and support for students:
- Leading the way: This is a scholarship that offers intensive English education to undergraduate students.
- The first stage of the program consists of English classes lasting one and a half semesters, which allows students to strengthen their knowledge of the language as well as to gain insight into the American culture.
- The second stage offers the opportunity to study abroad at Drexel University for four to six weeks, where students have intensive English classes and an afternoon leadership case study, in which the students meet in small groups with leaders of different areas (academic, business, community) in order to enhance their leadership skills.
- Finally, students returning from the study abroad program share their experience and mentor the future generations of Leading the Way participants.
- Conde Scholarships: These scholarships were created in 2013, when UC celebrated its 125th anniversary. These are meant to help talented low-income students cover the difference between the reference fee (value set by the Ministry of Education for state funding purposes) and the actual tuition.
During this year’s visit, a meeting was held with scholarship recipients of the Leading the Way Program.
On the occasion, Civil Engineering student Carlos Sáez was awarded the Leading the Way Scholarship in honor of Rand Araskog, donated by Director Juan Cappello.
Cristóbal Conde Scholarships
The activities also included a heartwarming meeting with the students and graduates of the Cristóbal Conde Scholarships.
An important moment within the ceremony was the portrayal made of Cristóbal Conde’s mother, Eulalia Donoso Medina, who was a key person in his life and the reason why he decided to set up the scholarship in her name in the first place.
In his 2018 visit, Cristóbal Conde told the story of how his mother was able to pursue a university degree thanks to an anonymous donor.
"My mother was born in a tent in the central square of Talca, because her house was damaged by an earthquake. She led a life of hard work. When she graduated high school, she told her parents that she wanted to study at the university. My grandfather told her: ‘No way, you’re already more educated than all your cousins, I won’t give you permission or money.’ But she had already applied for a scholarship."
That anonymous donor changed my mom’s life, they changed all of our lives. She became the first female executive at the United Nations in Chile, said Conde.
Cristóbal Conde was born in Chile, but he studied and made a made life for himself in the United States. He received a B.S. degree in astronomy and physics from Yale University.
He is the co-founder and board member of major companies and associations in the United States, and an active member of the board of directors of Friends UC.
"My wife and I started this scholarship because I always thought that if it weren’t for that donor who supported my mom, there wouldn’t be any of this."
The Scholarship has already benefited 255 people.
Eulalia Donoso passed away in March 2022, and in her honor this year the Conde Eulalia Donoso Medina Scholarship was awarded. The beneficiary was Francisco Godoy, a Chemistry and Pharmacy student.
Sava Thomas, president of Friends UC, said that Eulalia Donoso, “was a fantastic person, a very liberated woman, a pioneer.”"
In turn, President Ignacio Sanchez, expressed his gratitude:
"It is very moving to be here at the meeting. This is one of the most exciting ceremonies during the year, because we are celebrating very important values for our society."
The award was presented by Sebastián Conde, Cristobal’s brother.
Cultural Tour and Board of Directors
The packed agenda of Friends' board of directors also included visits to the offices of:
- Conecta Mayor Foundation
- Vicente Huidobro Foundation
- MAVI-UC, with a tour led by its director, Amelia Saavedra
On the second day, a board meeting was held, in which Friends UC projects and other projects led by different university units that have been supported by the corporation in the past were analyzed.
Elige Educar is one of those projects, and during the meeting its executive director, Joaquín Walker, discussed their efforts to ensure that Chilean children are educated by the best teachers.
More About Friends UC
Friends UC was founded in 1989.
The corporation has a two decade-long relationship with the University, and has donated more than US$10 million through scholarships, post-earthquake recovery programs, the J-Pal program and the Elige Educar foundation, to name a few.
Among its directors are:
- President Emeritus, Pedro Rosso
- Provost of Institutional Management, Patricio Donoso
- Vice President of Finance, Loreto Massanés
- Roberto Méndez, professor at the School of Government
It is also made up of renowned Chilean and foreign professionals who share a deep appreciation of the importance of the university and its work.
The foundation is constantly inviting Chileans living in the United States or Americans that are interested in becoming donors. As a registered foundation in the United States, it provides tax benefits to U.S. residents, who can deduct the full amount of their donation from their tax return.
If you are interested, you can write an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.