After surviving for a while at the National University and finally failing the same course (histology) twice, we helped Jenny move to southern Ecuador to the city of Loja and the program in Veterinary Science at the Universidad Nacional de Loja. Jenny’s father and half-siblings live further south on a farm near the small town of Carriamanga. This move has been fantastic for Jenny. She shares a small apartment with her cousin Karina, who is also a student at the university. The teaching is much superior, oriented to being a rural vet, which is what Jenny intends to be. She is in her 4th semester of 10, her grades are excellent, and her proud grandfathers say that their nieta will be the first vet their community has ever had.
Jenny Narvaez cares about the stray animals that live all around her in her barrio in the hills north of Quito. She and her mom take in more than their share of cats and dogs and try to give them a decent place to live. Jenny also has the mind and curiosity of a scientist about animal anatomy, physiology, and illnesses. She wants to be a veterinarian. She was valedictorian of her ninth grade class at the Working Boys’ Center where we met her and also at two other high schools that she attended. She did not pass the entrance exam at the Universidad Nacional this past July, because it contained a lot of material that had not been presented in her high school classes. This is not surprising, but constitutes a serious barrier to lower-class students from the public school system. Thanks to the Fund’s help, she is now attending a good test preparation academy, studying mathematics, chemistry, biology, anatomy, and critical reasoning. She is doing very well and will be well prepared when she takes the exams again in January.
Update: Jenny passed the University entrance exams in January, and is taking courses in the standard pre-veterinary curriculum at the Universidad Central. She is now considering the possibility of studying Biotechnology, and will decide at the end of this semester.
Recently, during an annual eye exam that we ask our students to have, she was diagnosed as having macular edema in her left eye, perhaps as a result of an untreated childhood injury. The Foundation has sent her to one of Quito’s best ophthalmologists. She has received a steroid injection, and probably is going to need continuing treatment. The cost of this is well beyond her family’s means.
Update: July 9, 2012. Jenny received an excellent report about the results of her steroid injection at the end of June. The swelling in the macula has receded, and now her vision in her left eye is only slightly worse than her right eye. Her ophthalmologist was very pleased with this result, and Jenny will continue to have 6 month checkups to monitor the situation.
Jenny has also distinguished herself in her first semester at the Universidad Central in the pre-university class for veterinary studies. In several classes (mathematics and chemistry), she has the best grades in a group of sixty students. She works with many of the teachers as virtually an assistant in the classes. She is a member of a math competition team for her career group. They won their first match against the group from petroleum and mining engineering.
Jenny and her mom run what is in effect an animal rescue in their barrio. She currently has 6 dogs and 3 cats. She writes about them with great love: “Lucas, recogido de la calle cuando tenía más o menos 3 meses de edad, era muy pequeña y dormilón, ahora es muy grande y gordo, de color café. Tiene hocico muy grande, unos ojos de color oscuro. Tiene un dinosaurio de juguete que le gusta mucho. Es un poco tosco, siempre que salta me termina botando en el suelo. Le gusta que lo saluden rascandole la cabeza y dándole un beso, es el más comelón de todos.” (Lucas, recovered from the streets when he was more or less 3 months old, he was very small and slept a lot. Now he is very large and fat, brown in color. He has a large snout and very dark eyes. He has a dinosaur toy that he likes a lot. He is sometimes stubborn; when he jumps, he ends pushing me over. He likes to be greeted by rubbing his head and giving a kiss. He is the biggest eater of all.”
Jenny lives with her mother Dominga and her brother Patricio near the small restaurant that her mother runs at the end of the bus line in Tiwintza. Basic services have not reached this barrio. Despite their small house, they take in relatives. Recently, Jenny’s aunt, uncle, and three young cousins arrived from the south of Ecuador. Their house is very full; we got Jenny books to read with her cousins. She is delighted to help them.