DENTON (UNT), Texas -- While volunteering for a nonprofit organization serving children in El Salvador, Ingrid Panameno, a recent University of North Texas graduate, began to realize the barriers the children faced to getting an education, including destroyed school infrastructures, lack of transportation and scarce school supplies.
Born in the U.S. after her father left El Salvador to provide economic support for his family, Panameno was inspired to become a development economist and create her own nonprofit organization to assist impoverished communities. She is one step closer to that goal after receiving a $30,500 Rotary Global Grant to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science during the 2016-17 academic year. The grant is provided by Rotary International District 5790, which includes 69 Rotary clubs in Texas, including Panameno's sponsoring club, the Grapevine Rotary Club.
Panameno, from Lewisville, plans to earn a master's degree in local economic development from the London School. She received her bachelor's degree in economics, with a minor in political science, during UNT's spring commencement ceremonies May 14.
Panameno said the program at the London School will prepare her to "address investment in education, creation of employment, efficiency of security and accessibility to basic services in selected communities."
"The contributions of my work will generate sustainable development in rural areas and help to improve the lives of people within those selected communities," she said.
James Duban, assistant dean for research and national scholarships in UNT's Honors College and Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, helped coach Panameno as she applied for the Rotary Global Grant.
Duban said Panameno "possesses a Rotarian spirit" by following the motto of Rotary -- "service above self." He noted that her "keen intellect and winning social grace" helped her win the grant.
Panameno lived in San Salvador, El Salvador, from age 2 to age 19, after her parents moved back to their native country. Panameno graduated from high school in San Salvador and studied business administration and economics for two years at Escuela Superior de Economia y Negocios, a private nonprofit center for higher learning in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. She transferred to UNT in 2014 after she and her family moved to Texas.
At UNT, Panameno was a volunteer Spanish tutor in the Learning Center and completed an internship with the National Breast Cancer Foundation in Frisco. She received the 2016 Wood Mackenzie BAFTX Energy Award from the British-American Foundation of Texas.