Bolivian Graduate Receives the 2019 DAAD Award

The 2019 DAAD Award goes to Miguel Arduz from Bolivia. Every year, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) confers an award worth 1,000 euros to an international degree-seeking student of the University of Mannheim who has demonstrated exceptional academic performance and social commitment.

The German language has been an integral part of Miguel Arduz’s life since he was nine years old. He attended the German School in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, and studied German for several hours a week. “I have spent so much time with this language that studying in Germany seemed only logical. Besides, German universities have a very good reputation,” says Miguel Arduz. Before he could apply for a study place in Germany, he attended a preparatory college in Munich for one year in order to complete his Abitur.

It was clear to Miguel that he wanted to study Business Informatics. Choosing a university was rather difficult for him. He looked at rankings and eventually decided to enroll at the University of Mannheim. His sister had already completed her degree there here and he had visited her a couple of times. “I thought, if my sister had a great time in Mannheim, then it must be good and I’ll like it there, too.”

When thinking back to his studies, Miguel goes into raptures: “When my friends were visiting me in Mannheim they were always astonished at how often I met friends on Bismarckstraße or in the corridors of the Schloss. The family-like atmosphere – that’s what I appreciate most about the university. And, of course, studying in a palace,” says Miguel. As it used to be rather difficult for him to learn about social projects in Bolivia, he highly regards the student organization fairs in Mannheim. “In Mannheim it was really easy for me to become socially committed. My mother always says that already as a child I have been taking care of other people who were excluded from society.”

At the beginning of his studies, Miguel found out about the initiative IDEiAs and joined the group for two years. During his time with IDEiAs, he helped to enhance the cultural exchange between Latin America and Germany. In addition, Miguel worked in the International Office and worked with international students for one summer. Later on, during his master’s, he tried something new and joined the charitable student organization Studenteninitiative für Kinder. Together with fellow students, Miguel organized tutoring sessions for socially and economically disadvantaged children and also gave extra lessons to a little boy himself.

In spring 2019, 26-year old Miguel earned his master’s degree at the University of Mannheim and started working as a software consultant at ThoughtWorks, a global tech company in Hamburg. The company contacted him via LinkedIn to offer him the job. As ThoughtWorks describes itself as a company strongly committed to social justice, Miguel decided to take the position. Already during the interviews, he was pleasantly surprised by the large number of international employees. “For example, everyone was very open-minded about the company’s participation in the Fridays for Future march in September. Our Event Space was available for groups to prepare for the march,” Miguel states with satisfaction.

Miguel Arguz receives the DAAD Award for his excellent academic performance and his long-term social commitment within and outside of the university. “We are very proud to be able to accompany students like him on their path. He is a prime example for successful integration,” says Angela Dörflinger of the International Office. Miguel received the news while he was in India. “At first, I could not believe that I actually won a prize. I received the news at work and was absolutely delighted,” says Miguel.

Text: Luisa Gebhardt / October 2019