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Opening doors for students

Alex Martinez, Comm’26

Learn how The Oportunidad Award allowed Alex Martinez, Comm’26, to achieve his dreams and study at Smith, in the video below.

The Oportunidad Award was established in September 2021 by an anonymous donor — a Latin American immigrant to Canada whose life was changed through education, and who has had a long career in the finance industry. Here’s what he said about starting the award:

“Moving to Canada in the middle of January was a traumatic experience, not only because I left the warm summer of my home country of Uruguay for the bitter cold of Toronto, but also for all the other challenges the move entailed, from not speaking English and many other cultural challenges and adversity that we faced.

“Education was always important at home. It represented opportunity and a way to improve our lives for the better in Canada. I was fortunate to be able to obtain a good business education and that was a springboard to a long career in the finance industry.

“As I look back, many of the challenges that I faced as a Latin American immigrant have become advantages that benefit me in the business world. Being comfortable and fluent in both North American and South American cultures and having an entrepreneurial spirit – which is very big in our culture – helped to set me up for success.

“I created The Oportunidad Award to see more young Latinos pursue business studies so they can then have representation in top finance positions and boardrooms across the country. My aim is to ease the financial burden for the recipients so they would choose Smith, whereas without the award they might have chosen a school closer to home.

“I started this award at Smith because it has an excellent reputation for both its academics and the unparalleled student experience.”

The Oportunidad Award is given on the basis of financial need and academic achievement to students entering their first year of the Commerce program. Preference is given to students who self-identify as being Latin American. The award is renewable for three subsequent years provided a satisfactory academic average is maintained and financial need remains evident.