Critical thinking, creative problem solving, and the ability to work as part of a team earned two graduates from St. Thomas University fellowships with Venture for Canada.

Andrea Lopez, of El Salvador, and Jimy Beltran, of Venezuela, were selected from hundreds of applicants to join Venture for Canada—a not-for-profit that recruits and trains top graduates to work with startups across the country.

As part of the application process, a select group of fellowship-hopefuls were invited to Toronto for a Fellow Selection Day. Invitees took part in two group challenge sessions and a one-on-one interview.

Skills developed at STU helped Beltran and Lopez stand out.

“You instantly start thinking critically.’ Lopez said. “It’s amazing how it just comes naturally now.” 

At the end of the one-on-one interview, applicants were asked to speak to a world issue they’re passionate about. Having a background in International Relations and Human Rights, Lopez was able to differentiate herself from the others.

“I noticed everyone had very domestic issues, but I was able to bring a global perspective to the table,” she said. “That’s when I realized business isn’t just about numbers. They need people from different backgrounds to bring different perspectives, and STU gave me that.”

Beltran, who completed honours in History and Political Economy, a major in Catholic Studies, and a minor in Business agreed.

“My liberal arts education allowed me to answer questions persuasively and insightfully during the whole process,” he said. “Critical thinking and communication skills were crucial in my selection to the program.”

Lopez and Beltran will attend a month-long training camp at Queen’s University before being paired with a startup. Lopez is hoping to match with a software service that measures, manages, and monitors cyber risk.

“I worked part-time in Information Technology Services at STU for four years and my thesis was related to cyber security, so I feel like there’s a connection here,” she said. “That’s what I’m aiming for, but I’m open to other options as well.”

After the two-year fellowship Lopez is hoping to pursue work in project management, while Beltran will pursue graduate studies.

Regardless of where the experience takes her, Lopez is confident she’ll have options.

“What I like about STU is that they don’t put you in a box. You’re able to choose what you want to study,” she said. “That, plus what I’m going to learn through Venture for Canada, is going to give me a broader knowledge that will allow me to go into whatever I field I want.”