Luis Guillermo Prada

Luis Prada Headshot

What does inspiration mean to you and how would you use your platform in your future career to inspire others?

When I was younger, I learned of my family’s history of heart disease. Since then, I have wanted to enter the medical field. I have specifically wanted to become a cardiovascular surgeon since I was 11. I am now 17 and want to use my future platform to directly help others by saving their lives through surgery, as well as by inspiring them to enter either healthcare or to pursue their own endeavors while keeping their communities in mind.

Inspiration is a spark of interest or creativity initiated by an event or other individual that motivates a person to further that person’s endeavors. The two main individuals who have motivated me to further my endeavors are my Mexican American parents. My stepfather is inspirational to me because even with few resources, he still managed to overcome obstacles and earn a master’s degree on a full scholarship. My mother has also inspired me because when she was a single mother, she struggled through three jobs and did everything she could to put me, my sister, and herself through school. It always stood out to me that they became the first in their families to attend and graduate university. Their determination to succeed and provide a better life for their family and community sparked my interest to further my education and to be of service.

Growing up, I observed them give back by donating money to the church, food to food banks, and volunteering to pick up trash. One of my favorite memories of my dad is when kids came to our car at the beach and he gave his shirt and hat to them with a smile on his face. This is where my desire to grow into the kind of person I know I can become came from. I want to continue our family tradition to help not only ourselves, but also those around us. Seeing they came from humble beginnings and were able to surpass many obstacles allowed me to dream that I, too, could accomplish something and be valuable to others. Just as my parents inspired me to further my endeavors, I also want to inspire others to overcome hardships and accomplish their dreams. I currently live in Angola, Africa, and I have learned Portuguese to connect with Angolans on a more personal level and know what they truly need. From my experience speaking with the orphanages and villagers, I learned they need non-perishable foods and water filtration systems. In the future, I plan to work alongside healthcare professionals in the continent of Africa to help them meet their needs. I hope to inspire those in my community by being present with them, having their best interest in mind, and caring for them and their well-being.

I look up to my parents and use them as motivation to better myself to become that cardiovascular surgeon I have always wanted to be. I want to have the same kind of impact my parents had on me on others.

What are you currently doing to inspire those around you?

Moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Luanda, Angola, really opened my eyes to the rest of the world and inspired me to help other people in need in a different way in my new community. I currently lead a Boy Scout Troop (which I founded in Luanda, Angola, Africa) to raise charity events for orphanages and to also help feed the hungry in Angola.

I teamed up with FOLSCO (Friends of Luanda Street Children) to raise money for orphanages in Angola and volunteered with Chevron to raise money for the southern Angolan drought.

When I moved to Angola, as an Eagle Scout I noticed there was no Boy Scout Troop in the area where we lived, so I took it upon myself to make one. With the help of my parents and other adults who wanted me to mentor their children, we started Troop 2005 in Luanda. As the Senior Patrol Leader of the new troop, I found it fit to present ourselves in the community and to motivate them to donate more to the orphanages and communities of Angola. I did not want to lead a Boy Scout Troop that did not help my community, especially when the community was asking for our help. Troop 2005 went door to door and gave community members a description of what they were donating to. It was because of this extra effort we made sure to increase donations. I also looked for organizations with which the Boy Scouts could partner and chose FOLSCO because I had previously volunteered with them to make hundreds of meal bags for hungry street children around Angola.

After much planning, scheduling, and calls, we raised 1,350,000 kwanzas and it only cost 155,000 kwanzas to build a classroom. In the end, we helped many Angolan orphanages buy food and equipment donations for shelters; support the salaries of the shelter educators; bring music, dance, and literacy to street children; provide street children with meals, games, and first aid treatment; and coordinate celebrations and outgoings at the orphanages and shelters, such as trips to the beach.

In another huge fundraising event, I led the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Girl Scouts to help volunteer with Chevron to raise money for the South Angolan drought in Cuando Cubago. We raised 17 million kwanzas, which were brought to them in 22 tons of items and food. The money will also help them develop water wells.

If I can do all of this with the limited resources I have attained through the networks I cultivated, imagine what I can do to help communities if you award me with the Desire to Inspire Scholarship, which would help get me closer to becoming the cardiovascular surgeon I hope to become.

What you would do with the scholarship award if you were to receive it?

I would use the financial assistance from the 2020 Desire to Inspire Scholarship to help pay for college materials, such as textbooks for courses and a university meal plan. The scholarship would also minimize the economic strain on my family by helping pay for my education.

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