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FGCU alumni Andres Machado earns full ride to Oxford University for grad school

Most people would agree that in the rare occasion the phrase “got a full ride” is used, a fascinating story comes behind it.

The story of Andres Machado is no exception. Machado, a Colombian immigrant living in Naples since 2006, was awarded a full scholarship to attend Oxford University this fall.

“I was born in Colombia, and I moved to the United States when I was 16. At the time, I did not speak any English, so it was very hard,” Machado said. Machado graduated from FGCU in the summer of 2014 with a degree in political science and a double minor in global studies and Management. Shortly after that, he joined a nonprofit organization in Naples called Grace Place for Children and Families.

“I wanted to help high school students to attend college,” Machado said, “actually, six of them will be attending FGCU this year. I’ve been working with them for a year.”

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Naturally, the dream of attending a prestigious university for his graduate studies had always been present in Machado’s life.

“I wanted to go to Oxford, but I was very doubtful I would get in,” he said. Machado submitted applications to two of Oxford’s master programs – ‘Latin American studies’ and ‘global governance and diplomacy’ – in January of this year.

“Dr. Nicola Foote [Former interim director of the Honors Program at FGCU] wrote wonderful letters of recommendation and was extremely supportive,” Machado said.

Three months later, in March, he found out he had been accepted to both programs. “I couldn’t believe it,” Machado said. “I was very happy. I went to Dr. Foote, and the first thing she said was ‘you are going to become a world leader.’”

The excitement of being accepted to such a prominent university was soon replaced with worry since there was no way he could pay for a program without a scholarship. He was told he would be automatically considered for the Queen Elizabeth

House Departmental Scholarship on both programs, but the odds of getting it were very low. Out of 25 people on each program, only one person would get the scholarship in each one.

“I had already thought of what I would do instead,” Machado said. “Then, one day, I woke up, and it was a Tuesday; I remember. The interesting thing is that both programs offered me the full scholarship!”

“I ran to my mom and I told her – ‘please tell me I’m not dreaming,’” he said.

The scholarship is solely based on academic achievements and provides funds for living expenses, tuition, transportation and entertainment.

Machado will cross the big pond on Oct. 1, and the program will start on Oct. 15. He is unsure of what his future might hold, but for now he will try to make the most out of this opportunity.

“I want to learn everything I can so that I can contribute to the field of diplomacy,” he said. “I want to improve education in developing countries.”

His advice to current FGCU students is to “never think that something is impossible because if you work hard enough you will be able to achieve anything.”

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