Born in Havana, Cuba, María Carla Chicuén moved to the United States as a teenager and completed middle and high school in Florida. In 2010 she obtained her Bachelor´s Degree with High Honors in History from Harvard University, and a Master´s Degree in International Relations with Merit from the London School of Economics the following year.
María Carla launched her professional career in international development as a consultant for the Education Sector of the World Bank in Washington D.C., focusing on the Latin America & Caribbean region. She later transitioned to the Inter-American Development Bank as a consultant for the Trade and Integration Sector in Panama City, Panama.
For over a decade, María Carla has actively cultivated her passion to foster access to higher education. While still in high school she founded a student club to prepare recent immigrants to pursue college studies. She was also selected by ACT to write regular blog posts detailing her own college planning. At Harvard, María Carla worked for over three years as a Latino Recruiter at the Admissions Office's Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program, informing prospective students and their families about access to Harvard and other selective universities. She has also collaborated with the London-based education startup Foreign Students and, more recently, with Minerva Schools as the Central America & Caribbean Region Director.
María Carla has advised students from Europe, Latin America, Asia and North America throughout their successful applications to selective universities around the world. All her mentees have been accepted in selective institutions, including Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Pennsylvania. María Carla regularly offers college access workshops and information sessions in English and Spanish in the United States and Latin America, and her articles about education have been published in international media.
Achieve the College Dream: You Don't Need to Be Rich to Attend a Top School (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2016)
ONLINE PUBLICATION SERIES
2011-2012 Article series on access to higher education, www.univision.com
2010-2011 Blog posts about personal experience as a foreign student, www.foreignstudents.com
2005-2007 Blog posts about personal experience planning for college, www.actstudent.org
ACADEMIC & POLICY RESEARCH
Co-Author, "Chile´s Student Financial Aid System," Education Sector, Latin America & Caribbean Region, World Bank (2012)
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
2016 Inspiration in the Community Award, Motivos Magazine
2015 Influential Latinos of Miami, Latino Leaders Magazine
2015 Education Working Group, Youth Forum, VII Summit of the Americas, Panama City, Panama
2012 World Bank Team Award for Excellence in Projects that Exemplify Development Impact, Innovation and Client Focus
2010 Harvard University Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize for Outstanding Academic Research Work
2010 Harvard University Philip Washburn Prize for Best Thesis in the History Department
2010 Harvard University James R. and Isabel D. Hammond Prize for Best Honors Thesis Related to Latin America
2010 Second Prize, Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Annual Essay Contest
2009 Harvard University Williams/Lodge International Government and Public Affairs Research Fellowship
2009 Harvard University Real Colegio Complutense Research Grant
2006 Premios Juventud de Univision
2006 Toyota Community Scholarship
2006 Mas Family Scholarship
2006 General Scholarship Honorable Mention, Silver Knight Awards
2006 Univision & Papa John´s Pizza Orgullo de Nuestra Juventud
MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPER ARTICLES
"Miami Stories: Cuban family struggled, achieved their dreams in Miami," Miami Herald, April 2016
"Alcanzar el sueño universitario: usted no necesita ser rico para asistir a una escuela superior", Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (SENACYT), Gobierno de la República de Panamá, Abril 2016
"Intelecto, compromiso e impacto: la combinación que abre las puertas", Martes Financiero, La Prensa, 3 de febrero, 2015
"Las mejores universidades, al alcance de todos", Martes Financiero, La Prensa, 13 de enero, 2015
"The Path to Top Colleges for High-Achieving Students with Limited Resources," Summer Academy of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), June 2016