Two engineers go back to university: "Sophia can give new meaning to our job"

The Fondazione Valter Baldaccini scholarship awardees come from Mexico and Egypt

Promoting culture and contributing to sponsor the education of two deserving students – such was the aim of the donation made by the Fondazione Valter Baldaccini to the Fondazione Per Sophia, thanks to which two scholarships to study at the Sophia University Institute have been awarded. The recipients are students Juan Pablo Bueno Hernandez from Mexico and Mena Yousef Fahiem Askharon from Egypt.

They are both engineers and they arrived at Sophia two months ago. They are fluent in English and have already started learning Italian. They told us that they decided to undertake the Sophia academic experience because they wish to put more than technical skills into their job. Right from the start, they explained that they chose the Economics and Management curriculum in the hope of receiving in-depth academic training, but also for the additional value that comes from living within the university community.

“I’m a mechanical engineer, and I’m used to working for big companies – says Juan Pablo: - during my years of work I had the chance to learn a lot, but at one point I felt the need to focus on the human aspect of the job, an aspect that is often overlooked. It’s as if everything had to be measured through numbers. That is why – he says – I decided to learn more about the economic and managerial side of the job, and to try and go to the root of these disciplines. In the Economy of Communion project, and at the Sophia University Institute, I found the answer I was looking for: a way to learn about a new working culture, one that is not just based on theory, but which takes into account the social life of people.

“After teaching for a few years, I started working at an oil platform –says Mena, a petroleum engineer. – Last year I had the chance to visit Loppiano and I found out about Sophia. When I went back home and back to work, I started reflecting on the deeper meaning of what I was doing. The only reason I worked was to earn a living – I didn’t realise that what I did could have a different value. I started feeling the need to do something more than just work to make a living. Hence the decision to come to Sophia to study Economics and Management. I think these disciplines – he confesses – are essential at work. In the oil industry in particular, economic processes have a relevant impact. I chose Sophia because it’s a place where I can grow, not just from an academic point of view, but in my personal life as well: I have the chance to invest in the values that matter most in my life. I don’t know what will happen after Sophia – he concludes – and I’m sure everything will be different. I don’t know if I will go back to my old job, but I’m sure that I’ll do things differently – I won’t just work to make a living, I’ll work to be a gift to others too. I hope that Sophia will give meaning and value to my existence and to what I’ll have the chance  to do for others."


The Fondazione Valter Baldaccini scholarships were officially awarded by President Beatrice Baldaccini on 25th October 2017, at the headquarters of the foundation dedicated to the memory of engineer Valter Baldaccini. A man of deep Christian faith, Baldaccini met Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement and later of the Sophia University Institute, who left a lasting impression on him and inspired him both in his personal and professional life.

A cutting-edge entrepreneur, a visionary at times, Baldaccini was particularly attentive to the needs of the local communities. With the support of the Focolare Movement, he got personally involved in numerous projects in Africa, offering his organisational skills and humanity. Today, partly through the foundation named in his honour, his children and Umbra Cuscinetti, the company he founded, ensure that his material, human and ethical legacy remains alive.

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