The boy from Realengo who became a judge and now helps young people achieve their dream of a higher education

Aleixo Paraguassú Netto was born in Realengo, suburb of Rio de Janeiro, where he spent his childhood and youth facing hardship. Due to the fact that Aleixo came from a humble family and lived far from downtown, where public education courses were offered, he was only able to start college at age 26. When he began his law studies at the “Universidade do Brasil”, now called UFRJ, he was already married and had two children. It was challenging! But with the support of his wife Maria, he was able to graduate and to become a judge and work as the Secretary of the Public Security and the Secretary of Education for the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. “One of the best decisions of my life was to make education the lever that allowed me to leave a situation of difficulty an move into one of economic and financial stability” said Paraguassú Netto.

Aware of the fundamental role that education played in his life, in 2003, Paraguassú Netto decided to offer opportunities to young people and adults in economic and vulnerable situations that he himself had faced, founding Instituto Luther King, which offers free college entrance exam preparatory courses, with 140 students per year divided into four classes. In its 14 years of operation, the ILK has already reached 1,700 low-income students prepare to enter college.

As of today, 1,100 students have successfully enrolled in college. “It makes me feel great, when from time to time, I think about all these young people that had been part of the institute” he said. He thinks about the young people that were part of the institute and managed to overcome their own achievements. “To remember the difficulties of each one of them, their tenacity, their talent and finally their success: all graduated, many with masters’ degrees, others working towards a Ph.D. Regarding the last ones mentioned, I feel now that they have surpassed me in achieving an intellectual level that I never conquered. This in particular gives me an inexplicable and unforgettable joy”. Another important initiative of ILK is the “Digital Station” where children, teenagers and adults learn about computer systems. The course lasts two months and reaches over 120 students per year.

Paraguassú Netto dreams of creating a society that is more just and equal for all. He believes that with investments in education and appropriate preparation, everyone will be able to become a successful professional. And you can help him support the studies and careers of hundreds of Brazilians.

Visit: abraceobrasil.org/institutolutherking and make a donation.

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