Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to walk and run
and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying”. I quoted this phrase because it highlights how a person builds themselves up, and it reflects the path I have followed to structure myself and
accomplish my dreams; dreams that I would like you to sponsor. I learned to walk in the bosom of my family in Colombia, where I developed a passion for knowledge.
My mother was a biologist and a teacher, my father is a chemical engineer, and my elder brother
followed in his footsteps. They all inspired me and were good role models. I grew up surrounded by
them, I examined and adopted their devotion to follow and explore personal interests.
Then I had to pursue the running. I come from the country where Fernando Botero and Gabriel Garcia
Marquez wowed the world with their art and stories. Colombia is a beautiful country, but also full of
contrasts. It has been tremendously hit by violence and corruption. These problems have impacted its
economy and today the number of people on the poverty line, is equivalent to the population of the
Netherlands, about 17,5 million people (according to the World Bank). As several young people in
Colombia, I learned to run, but it was clear that I needed to run faster to overcome the limits imposed
by the context.
Subsequently I was climbing. At first, I studied Industrial Engineering. This bachelor’s degree gave
me great foundations for my first job experience as a sales executive for a global leader within the
certification industry. I learned about the needs of the Colombian industry and how to improve the
quality of products and the manufacturing processes. However, I felt I could have a bigger impact on
the context in which I lived, and so, I questioned myself. As a result of reading and reflexion, I aligned
my passion, vocation, purpose, and sense of gratitude with life to dedicate my capacities to work on
the global challenge of implementing sustainable mobility in cities.
Then came the best part of my life because each new step had sense to me. I called this part learning
to dance. I did a second Bachelor in Electromechanical Engineering and gained two scholarships for
being the best student and I got a meritorious final thesis. I learned English and started to learn
German, I have built up 13 years of experience, the last 3 focused on designing and implementing
Renewable Energy projects for different industries, aimed at reducing their carbon footprint and
energy costs. Now I am a second semester student of M. Eng. Renewable Energy and E-mobility at
Stralsund University of Applied Sciences.
Throughout the years that I had lived in Bogota, a city with 7.2 million of population, I observed how
most of commutes last between 1 and 3 hours. Public transport is fossil-fuel based, with buses being
the main means of transport and mostly overcrowded. This means of transport is closely linked to a
major problem of CO2 emissions and air pollution, which kills nearly 65 out of every 100,000 people
in low- and middle-income countries every year (according to the World Health Organization). Thus,
I realized that by reducing time and implementing other means of transports with clean energy
sources, pollution will decrease, and citizens would have better health conditions and a considerable
improvement in their quality of life. For this reason, I came to Germany, to gain knowledge in
solutions I could bring to Colombia, and other countries where it would also be of great benefit.
Currently, I am at the point of wanting to learn how to fly; I am in Germany on my own, with limited
economic resources, and I have dreams, that your support through the VELA scholarship would be a
great help in realising. I would like to research the implementation of a combination of public
transport solutions to help countries to develop transport policies and implement technology-based
solutions to improve sustainability and quality of life of the citizens.
Alejandro Zabala Figueroa