Laureate Student Ambassador: Lisa Mestres

When Lisa Mestres was just  five years old she left the only world she knew behind. Born in New York City, she moved with her family to Trujillo, Peru. She said her parents were in search of a better life for their children.

“My mom was worried about how the culture would affect us and believed it may have taken us down a not-so-good path,” Mestres said.

Although born to a Peruvian mother, Mestres didn’t speak much Spanish, right away, and found it challenging to connect with other kids.

“Most of the time I wouldn’t understand most of what they were saying, and I had an accent that was difficult for them to understand, as I was learning English,” the 20-year-old said. “I would get frustrated and I would not want to hang out with other kids because they spoke only Spanish. I would isolate myself.”

The tides would soon change for Mestres, however, when she met a bilingual teacher. She was able to learn rather quickly, and it was overcoming both the cultural and language barriers that Mestres discovered she desired to help others in the same way she had been helped.

At age 17 she worked for an organization called Spanglish and volunteered to teach English to children from underserved populations.

“Children are inspiring,” said Mestres. “You think you know everything about life and once you start teaching children you quickly realize that you don’t.”

And now she’s hoping to make an even bigger impact. She is in her third year of studying international business at Universidad Privada del Norte (UPN).

“Growing up when anyone would ask me what I want to study and I’d say business,” she said. One reason for that is watching her parents run and operate a small business of their own when she was a child. They ran a gallery where merchants would sell clothes and other items to the public.

“I’d see the connections and relationships they built with people and dreamed of one day being able to do that on my own.” Although she’s humble, building connections comes second-nature to Mestres and she’s found several opportunities to do so.

In addition to being selected as one of the 6 student ambassadors who will represent Laureate International Universities at B Corp’s Champions Retreat, she’s recently been selected to be part of UPN’s Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program and will travel to Canada next year.

Mestres also serves as a student ambassador for the international program. In this capacity, she helps students from all over the world adjust to the school, campus, and the culture in Peru.

“We don’t have a culture of looking into all the resources that we have at our disposal. It is nice to be able to help students and their process,”

Mestres said of why she started to volunteer as an ambassador.

And helping others is Mestres’ mantra. She wants to be an entrepreneur, like her parents, and while she doesn’t know specifically want kind of business she would like to run, post-graduation, she does know she’d like to find a happy medium between making money and making the world a better place for Peruvians.

“I believe there is much to do here [in Peru],” she said. “If I can contribute even in the smallest way possible, I want to do it. I want to be part of people realizing and reaching their dreams and getting them to realize that not everything ends here in Peru. I’d like to show people that if they put their effort into it, they can reach far beyond what they can conceive.”