UI student wins national scholarship


Through starting his own nonprofit bicycle shop to being an inner-city middle-school teacher working with low-income children in Florida, University of Iowa M.B.A. graduate student Julian Valencia has been recognized for his accomplishments.

Valencia’s success has allowed him to display all the characteristics that prove him worthy of being a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce $10,000 scholarship recipient.

The scholarship is specifically aimed at Latino M.B.A. students. Valencia was the second of five recipients in the country to be granted the scholarship.

“We had some wonderful candidates, but at the end of the day, he displayed every single quality or characteristic that we would want to have as our United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce scholarship recipient,” said Michelle Dhansinghani, the associate director and corporate developer of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber of Commerce partnered with a company called Group-O to provide the scholarship.

Every year, the scholarship is available to a new university. This year, it was decided that only students from the University of Iowa would be targeted, which is why Valencia was able to apply.

“There were a couple of questions on how the scholarship will help you reach your goal,” he said. “I am very passionate about social entrepreneurship, educational reform, and tech start-ups.”

Since Group-O sponsored the scholarship and donated the money through the Chamber of Commerce, Valencia said he is very thankful to Gregg Ontiveros, the CEO of the company.

Group-O also sponsored Valencia to fly to the national convention in Salt Lake City, where he got to talk to lots of Latino CEOs and other Fortune 500 companies.

“It was a good networking and educational opportunity,” Valencia said.

Besides his nonprofit bicycle shop and working with inner-city middle-school children, Valencia also started a taxi company as an undergraduate student, and he still remotely manages it today.

Since then, other enterprises have caught Valencia’s attention.

He describes his newest project — Career Karma — as a mix between LinkedIn and an online dating site.

“I’ve been working on a nonprofit called Career Karma,” he said. “It’s a career coaching platform that connects first-generation college students — primarily Latinos, African Americans, and females — with career mentors in the business world. I believe that we should hold our country to the standard of being a meritocracy. We need to work toward making sure that [everyone has] equal opportunities.”

Valencia said the problem he is most passionate about solving is equal access to education and opportunities in America regardless of one’s background.

“It really hits home for me because I am a first-generation college student and a first-generation immigrant,” he said. “My mother was a refugee from Colombia and a single mother.”

Valencia’s experiences and determination to solve educational issues are what makes him stand out to others.

“Julian is intelligent with an entrepreneurial mind and cares deeply about helping others to succeed, especially when barriers need to be removed,” said Jan Fasse, the business director of the Tippie School of Management’s Marketing Career Academy. “He will become one of those people that makes things happen.”

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