Q & A with Sarah Penchyna, Founder of Looking Further

Sarah Penchyna is a student at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico, where she majors in International Relations. We met her at the SVC at Harvard Model United Nations in March of 2019, where she pitched her social venture Looking Further. We were inspired by the venture’s goal to provide young students with the tools to develop a life plan to achieve their short and long term goals. Sarah wants to show that with proper mentorship and tutoring, young students can make more progress and fulfill their goals.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Penchyna

Please introduce yourself.

Hello! My name is Sarah. I’m 19 years old and I was born in a city called Pachuca de Soto, which is in Mexico. I study International Relations at the Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey in Mexico City.

Let’s get to know you! Which three adjectives would people use to describe you?

Honest, empathetic, and persistent.

What do you love most about your home community?

Its diversity. You can find people from so many backgrounds but it feels just like one big community. I do believe that there’s no place like home.

What’s your favorite quote?

“Anything you can imagine is real.” — Pablo Picasso

What’s your favorite book? Why?

My favorite book is La Señora de Los Sueños by the Mexican writer Sara Sefchovich. I truly love it because it was my first introduction to feminism. I remember I was 12 years old and when I first read it, I didn’t realize how the author was exposing the reality of women in Mexico. Now when I read it I remember why I’m a feminist.

What is the challenge that your social venture seeks to address?

Mexico ranks no. 1 (of the OCED countries) for teenage pregnancies, which I believe is due to the lack of sex education at schools. Girls at an early age drop out of school because they become young mothers.

Another challenge our venture found is that there is little cultural awareness around creating a life plan for young students. After finishing high school, young boys and girls finish their studies without considering college as an option. This affects their future and quality of life as they are not prepared to consider all opportunities available to them.

Have you been personally affected by this issue? If so, how?

Growing up I realized that not all young people my age have the same plans or opportunities that I enjoy, such as studying at a university. I always had the support of my parents and teachers and enough resources to create my life plan. Therefore, I want all the young people in my community to have the same opportunities that I have because we all deserve to achieve our academic goals and fulfill our dreams.

What inspired you to start this venture?

My father is a pediatric surgeon and my mother is a professor; both of them taught me the importance of health and education. Unfortunately, not all Mexicans are aware of the importance of taking care of their health and attending college. That’s why I want to help young people by helping them to fulfill their academic and personal goals in the best possible way.

How is your venture addressing these challenges?

Looking Further wants to provide young girls and young boys accurate information on sexual health and contraceptive methods. We also want to help young people develop a life plan so they can create goals for the future and start working towards achieving them.

What are you and your team hoping to achieve with this venture?

One of our main goals is to empower adolescents and promote a process of reflection to recognize themselves as subjects of rights, assess their potential, and exercise their capacity for decision making. We also aim to raise young students’ awareness of sex education issues and the importance of creating a life plan so that they can make decisions in a free, informed, and responsible manner, and to encourage high school students to continue their studies at a higher level.

What excites you about the Resolution Fellowship?

The support I will gain from a community that is empathetic, trustful, helpful, and enthusiastic. The network is truly amazing and it is proof that young people can achieve great things.

How will the Resolution Fellowship help you to achieve your goals?

Although my age is not a limitation in creating a social venture, I am also aware that I still have a lot to learn. I know that what I want to carry out is a great responsibility and it involves a lot of work and for that reason, I want to do it in the right way. I know that The Resolution Project is an organization that seeks to help young people with improving their initial ideas and I think this is something that will help me a lot.

What role do young leaders play in the world today?

Young leaders are the future. We must be aware of the importance of our actions and decisions as a generation. I’m convinced that we have the capacity and abilities to improve our world, we just need to see the opportunity in every problem we face.

What are your goals for the future?

My academic goals are finishing my degree and starting a Master’s Degree in History of Art or Journalism. I would like to start publishing some articles that discuss important contemporary matters as well.

I would also like to travel and experience new cultures with new people.

Of course, I want to keep working on my social venture and improve it with the help of my team at Looking Further. I would be proud and happy to see that this project is not just working in my community but also in other places that need it.

What advice would you give to other college students who are looking to start their first venture?

Just do it. If you have a small idea that can help and improve the quality of life of a community, just keep working on it and share it with others. Actions matter, don’t let your age limit yourself from doing great things.

Please join us in welcoming Sarah to the Resolution community!

Photo courtesy of Sarah Penchyna