13 Minutes A Nicaraguan Student Discovers her Fit in Social Entrepreneurship

By Adriana Veizaga

Position: Staff Writer


Watson Institute student Ashley Madriagal shares how an unexpected TEDx Talk in her high school changed her life at 17 years old.

For 18 years, Nicaragua was home for Madriagal. Then,  she moved to the U.S for college. Back in Managua, her hometown, she attended Lincoln International Academy where she had the chance to learn English.

Madriagal performed excellently in academics, sports, public speaking and leadership. A complete student, she was also inspired by activities outside of school. TEDx Talks were amng those interests.

“I always wanted to go to a TEDx event in Nicaragua but never got the chance; that’s when I decided that I wanted to organize one in my school,” said Madriagal, now a Lynn sophomore. “I had to get my TEDx license approved before becoming the official event organizer.”

Then she, alongside six other students, spent half a year preparing the logistics for the TEDx Talk. It wasn’t until two weeks before the actual event that one of the speakers had to cancel due to a family emergency. With no speaker and almost no time to change the event, a life-changing experience was proposed to Madriagal. She should be one of the TEDx speakers.

“I would never have imagined that I would give a TEDx Talk about my past experiences with eating disorders,” said Madriagal. “It gave me a new kind of confidence I did not know I had. I did a lot of things in high school. I was a good student, I had straight A’s, I was involved in different activities, but nothing like standing up in front of 100 people looking at you. It was a ‘wow’ moment; those 13 minutes were pure adrenaline.”

After the event, Madriagal’s attitude towards overcoming situations changed. Every time a stressful event presents itself, she thinks about how she got to organize and be a speaker in a TEDx event at just 17 years old.

Before graduating high school, Madriagal began contemplating what she wanted to do. She was always interested in giving back to her country, Nicaragua, and although she never thought about studying social entrepreneurship, her application to Lynn changed the game.

“I wanted to major either in political science or economics; it was one of those. But then I applied to Lynn, and the Watson Institute reached out to me because of an essay I wrote about the political situation in Nicaragua and how my wish was combined with the social entrepreneurship major. Once I realized that, I was like, oh wow, that actually fits with what I want to do, it fits my profile,” said Madriagal.

Currently, Madriagal is getting the most out of her college experience at Lynn. She’s found a family within the Watson Institute and a place to be her true self. In the future, she aspires to continue her education in graduate school and work on her venture, which focuses on providing homes and jobs to Nicaraguans.

Madriagal posing for a photoshoot back in Nicaragua. Photo/A. Madriagal.

Madriagal giving a TEDx Talk at Lincoln International Academy. Photo/A. Madriagal.

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