In this new part of our alumni interview series, we talked to Soledad Viteri, who completed our master in 2017 and went back to her home country of Ecuador to work for the municipality of Quito. Soledad tells us about her experiences and challenges leading a social program to develop the potential of young people through education, training and recreational programs .

Name: Soledad Viteri
Age: 28 years old
Nationality: Ecuadorian
Year of Graduation from Program: 2017
Internship placement: Plan Estel
Current Occupation: Architect
Location: Quito, Ecuador
Area of interest/specialty: Inclusive Design, urbanism with gender perspective and sustainability.
Professional goal: To positively influence the political decisions made in this area for my city.

What have you done since graduating from our program?

I graduated in 2017 and went back to my country in 2018 where I started working in Quito’s municipality for the third time. This time I got the opportunity to be involved with the entity in charge of the social programs of the city (Unidad Patronato Municipal San José). My job is to lead social programs for the teenage and young population of the city, seeking to restore their rights through multiple programs.

Tell us a bit about your current job.

The social project is called “Jóvenes Quito”, and my job is to develop the potential of young people through education, training and recreational programs. We are a multidisciplinary team of committed people that work in four different centres around the city. Through these spaces the project offers multiple free services (workshops, classes, physiological support, etc.) to young people in order to help them prepare for the future. Some of the most innovative strategies involve educational campaigns, cultural activities in public spaces, and the incorporation of digital platforms to encourage their participation the civil society and empower them as agents of change.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of your job or of working in development in general?

There is a big gap between theory and practice, which is, definitely, the most challenging aspect. For example, some times decisions are made based on political interest and not necessarily based on the technical part; it is difficult to work with these situations in real life.

What are the most important lessons you have learned throughout our career?

Working in a team can be very complicated and often conflicting. However, I think it is the best way to propose innovative and effective solutions.

Tell us one of your most memorable experiences related to your work.

A very memorable experience for me was going on a field trip to my country with the masters program. After the earthquake I had the opportunity to be on site during the emergency stage and then I came back with my whole class during the post disaster reconstruction. Coming back the second time, I saw everything in a different way: more positive and optimistic. The final product of the workshop was excellent and the mood of the community was encouraging. I felt that Chamanga was having a great opportunity to recover and the community was empowered to lead the change.

In what ways did the master program influence your professional life? 

The cultural diversity of the class was one of the greatest sources of knowledge. Discussing arguments was my favorite part, because I learned to listen and open my mind to accept other ways of thinking. Since then I always look for interdisciplinary and – if possible – multicultural teams.

What advice would you give to our students or anyone interested in a similar career path?

Open your minds! Working in the development area is a continuous learning process. In my current work they ask me: What does an architect do working in the social area? Well, we architects design for the people and I think it is fundamental to learn from other human beings. And I am sure that there are other disciplines that I need to learn from.

MICSEA class of 2017

Featured Image: ”Circo de Luz”, one of the 4 centres of the project “Jóvenes Quito” (Photo Credits: Soledad Viteri)

Image above: Exhibition of social policies for young people of Quito in the VI Congress of Bullying (Photo Credits: Gabriel Mosquera)

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