Overcoming obstacles to succeed

Senior Dannit Cohen Saporta. Photo: Evan Garcia/University of Miami
By Amanda M. Perez

Senior Dannit Cohen Saporta. Photo: Evan Garcia/University of Miami

Overcoming obstacles to succeed

By Amanda M. Perez
As political unrest continues in Venezuela, several University of Miami students from the South American country received financial grants to help them graduate.

Dannit Saporta woke up with a start Tuesday morning.

“My dad was screaming that something very big was happening in Venezuela. I was so surprised,” said Saporta, a senior majoring in finance and business technology in the University of Miami Business School.  “Everyone in my community has a lot of hope, and we have a lot of expectations that something good could happen from this.”

Saporta spent hours watching television reports about the uprising and possible coup underway Tuesday in her native country. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó urged soldiers and civilians in Venezuela to take to the streets and rise up against the government of Nicolas Maduro.

“It’s not like other manifestations in the past,” she said.

With graduation on the horizon, Saporta said the news has been overwhelming to keep up with during a time she is supposed to be studying for finals.

“It’s very hard because my mind is somewhere else,” she said. “My school has turned into my family. I’m always in school, and it feels amazing to feel the support from a place I spend most of my time,” she said. 

In an effort to help them continue their studies, Saporta and two UM graduate students from Venezuela recently received a $5,000 grant each from the Institute of International Education (IIE) to help pay for their last semester of college. The IIE distributed $250,000 in one-time grants to 59 Venezuelan students enrolled at U.S. institutions who are experiencing financial hardship due to the political situation in their home country. The grants are through IIE’s Emergency Student Fund (ESF), which can be used to cover tuition, room and board, and other expenses necessary for their studies.

The available grants were brought to the attention of the students by UM's International Student and Scholar Services, which worked with Financial Aid and the students to file the applications and promote their nominations.

“It was a very exciting moment when I found out I was a recipient,” said Saporta. “I knew it was going to be very helpful for my family. It feels like a relief, because I know it will greatly reduce economic stress.” 

Saporta said the grant has been instrumental in helping her achieve her goal to finish her studies at UM and graduate in May. That is not the only goal she has in mindSaporta has her sights set high after graduation. She has already accepted a job at Norwegian Cruise Line as a revenue management coordinator. 

“My goal is to learn as much as I can. I eventually want to go back to my country and apply all my knowledge to help rebuild the economy there,” Saporta said.  

Saporta thanks the University of Miami community for helping her get through hard times. 

“The counseling center has been very supportive. They make it known to students that if we ever need to speak to someone, they’re always available,” said Saporta. 

It has been two years since she visited her home. She said It was a sobering reminder of how the country has headed toward a downward spiral. 

“It was not the same country I knew growing up. There’s a lot of scarcity. I saw people looking for food in the garbage, and that was something I didn’t see as much before,” Saporta said. 

She continues to hold on to hope.

“I am very proud of my culture. I hope Venezuela can overcome this with help from the international community,” Saporta said. “I hope countries like the United States can act on their statements and help Venezuela transition into a more stable country.”