Ancelma Ortiz used to be like any ordinary girl in a poor, rural Guatemalan family.

The oldest of five children, she labored in the fields alongside her father and sold the produce in the early morning market with her mother to help provide the basic necessities for their family.

But Ancelma isn’t ordinary.

Ancelma Ortiz 1

Photo courtesy of Skyline Images

She recognized that education would be her ticket out of poverty. Ancelma now speaks fluent English (!), financially supports her family, and pays for her siblings’ education.

Read on to find out more about Ancelma’s incredible journey (seriously, this is pretty amazing)…

“Tears running down my face, I used to plead again and again with my mother to let me go to school. I was already seven and never had the chance to study. I thought it was too late for me; that I was never going to get the opportunity to go to school.” Finally, her insistence paid off, and at age eight Ancelma started primary school.

“I wanted to be a scientist, or maybe a teacher. All that really mattered was that I was finally going to school!” However, Ancelma soon realized that she wasn’t going to be able to achieve her dreams to the fullest extent. Once primary school ended, her parents could never afford the luxury of further education. When Ancelma received a scholarship through Cooperative for Education’s (CoEd’s) Rise Youth Development Program, she was ecstatic but hesitant. She recalls, “My dad was skeptical. I told him that I had this opportunity to achieve my dream of becoming a professional, but he told me that most girls in our town didn’t finish school. I could try, but if I failed it wasn’t his problem.”

Ancelma Monroy Ortiz

This photo was taken when Ancelma first entered the scholarship program in 2005 as a timid 7th grader. It’s been a pleasure for the CoEd family to see her grow up!

Frustrated by the lack of family support, Ancelma focused on excelling in class. “I knew this kind of opportunity didn’t come along often. I was motivated to succeed because I didn’t want to disappoint my family or my sponsors. I wanted to prove to my parents that I could do whatever I set my mind to.” Taking advantage of CoEd’s Textbook and Ccomputer programs, she absorbed as much knowledge as possible. She states, “When it came to my education, failure was not an option.”

Ancelma has turned into an extraordinary exception in Guatemala. At 22, she obtained the highly sought after position of a customer service representative at a call center, is fluent in English (thanks to her company’s rigorous training program), and now financially supports her family. Thanks to Ancelma, her mother is able to stay home to care for her youngest sister, now two.

Ancelma Ortiz 2

Ancelma helps support her family and even uses her salary to buy milk for her youngest sister.

The first one in her family to graduate high school, it is chilling to think about how differently Ancelma’s life could have been without CoEd’s programs. Instead of toiling in the fields alongside her siblings, she pays for their education. With the technical skills she gained from CoEd’s computer program, Ancelma is better prepared than her co-workers to excel at her job. She inspires her younger siblings every day, who are determined to grow up to be just like their big sister.

Ancelma Ortiz 3
Ancelma used to be another poor girl in rural Guatemala. But motivated by the CoEd Rise, Textbook and Computer Programs, she beat the odds. To her sponsors, Ancelma says, “Thank you so much because you allowed me to overcome a big challenge in my life. You gave me the best possible way to succeed. Please do it again for more kids so they can support their families like I am now doing.”

Ready to sponsor another amazing young person like Ancelma? Sponsor the student in most need!