University: A 180-degree turn

28 April 2022

Anna Sánchez and Javier Rubio are university students. One studies in Madrid, the other in Barcelona; even though their stories are unique, they have a lot in common. They were always outstanding students, they have a lot of really varied interests, but even so, it was not easy for them to get to university. 

They both did it with the support of scholarships from the ”la Caixa” Foundation. What’s more, they say their lives have been completely turned around over the last few months. 

Anna is doing Literary Studies at the University of Barcelona. She's not far from her family, who live in Tarragona, but she says that “it seems like years since the last time I got in my mum's car at 7:45 in the morning to go to school.” Studying at university is interesting; she mentioned that she finds it fun. But “I can say that chaos sometimes takes over (and fear too).” However, she added, “I can’t avoid finding what life is really about amid the chaos.” 

Anna Sánchez, student on the Literary Studies undergraduate course at the University of Barcelona.

Javier is one of the few students who got full marks in the 2021 university entrance exams: 14 out of 14! From a young age, he was really interested in social theatre, and he say it was one of the reasons he decided to study Law and Business Management. “I want to get involved with society, and I think that studying law will help me to do that more effectively".


Javier Rubio, undergraduate Law and Business Management student at the Carlos III University, Madrid. 

His heart belongs to Extremadura, and he found it difficult to leave the region where he grew up. But he’s found his feet at the Carlos III University. “It is the top Spanish university for my course and offers bilingual studies.” However, studying in Madrid has so much more to offer. “I’ve had the chance to go to sitting in the Spanish Senate, to visit the Constitutional Court, etc. There’s so much to do here, and the city is so diverse and multicultural. I love it!” he told us.

Anna and Javier are building their own lives among the other 1.5 million university students in Spain. Just like all these other young people, these will be the formative years of their lives. “There are moments when I realise that I’m in a class, reading a text or discussing a book with my classmate... I look at myself, and I can only think about just how lucky I am,” said Anna. The idea of dedicating her live to just that makes her happy. “For me, writing is like cutting your skin and letting it bleed, it’s burning up in raw flesh.” When she thinks about reading, her mind turns to Sylvia Plath: “Though love be a day, I am afraid it will be only that; and though love be a day, I am afraid also that it will be more.” Anna recalls that she felt that the world was crumbling in on her when she read that for the first time. 

What about the future? What does it have in store for them? One thing they have in common is that they would love to study abroad. “Yes, for sure!” said Javier, and quickly went on to mention possible places: “Italy, Ireland, etc. If I have the chance, I'd love to even study abroad twice, one time for Law and one time for Business Management.” For Anna, the important thing is not the place itself, but rather discovering other places. “I love Northern Europe, America... but I've never had a specific place in mind like people who dream of visiting Japan from a young age,” she said.  

Any dreams for the future? 

“Working for the UN or the European Commission, defending human rights,” said Javier. 

“I’ll take my time over the next three years to think about it, because I know I won’t let this opportunity go to waste. There are so many people to love and so many books to read,” said Anna in conclusion. From a distance we can see her smile...


*We are certain of the importance of education, social mobility and professional qualifications for the development of a fairer and more egalitarian society, and our goal is to promote equal opportunities. As such the ”la Caixa” Foundation offers an integrated support programme that guides the scholarship holder through their university careers and, alongside the economic grants, it includes languages courses, additional support for international study and a support and transversal skills training programme to provide students with the skills they need to achieve academic excellence.

The 2022 scholarship call for outstanding students from underprivileged backgrounds who are starting undergraduate courses for the first time in the 2022-23 academic year is open until 3 June. You can find the terms and conditions here

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