January 31, 2003 - Richmond Alumni Magazine: El Salvador RPCV Eduardo Abreu teaches Leadership Studies

Peace Corps Online: Directory: El Salvador: Peace Corps El Salvador : Peace Corps in El Salvador: January 31, 2003 - Richmond Alumni Magazine: El Salvador RPCV Eduardo Abreu teaches Leadership Studies

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, January 31, 2003 - 3:50 pm: Edit Post

El Salvador RPCV Eduardo Abreu teaches Leadership Studies

El Salvador RPCV Eduardo Abreu teaches Leadership Studies

Eduardo Abreu

Applying leadership studies internationally

Even before he graduated from the University of Richmond, Eduardo J. Abreu, JR’98, was busy applying leadership education internationally. Abreu spent the summer before his junior year in Cordoba, Argentina, assisting with the development of the country’s first leadership center, Centro de Liderazgo.

“I helped to build this mini-leadership program from the ground up,” he explained. “We were introducing a whole new concept, not only to a university, but also to a culture. In Latin America, leadership has always been associated with the military. The idea that anyone could be a leader was totally new.”

Abreu assisted the center’s American founder with creating and implementing leadership courses, translating English leadership texts into Spanish, and designing a curriculum for the program.

“It was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences I had, due to Jepson,” he said. “It was a culmination of everything I had been learning.”

Abreu was born in Puerto Rico, the first member of his family to be born outside of Cuba. He learned about Richmond through a recruiter who visited his high school. Initially, the University captured his interest because of its small class size, but when he heard about the Jepson School, it hooked him.

“I really liked Jepson’s methodology,” he said. “I was really looking for a balanced type of education. At Jepson, you are able to put into practice the theories you learn. That sets the groundwork for the whole school.”

Once he began taking leadership classes, he knew he had made the right choice.

“It was the student environment,” he said. “You walk into a classroom, and there are no desks, just a U-shaped conference area.” That encourages exchange between students, and Abreu especially enjoyed the group projects that are the hallmark of Richmond’s leadership education.

“You learn just as much from your fellow students as you do from your professors,” he said. “You have the freedom to discuss any aspect of leadership you wish. It is very liberating.”

Abreu applied his leadership training to serving as an orientation adviser and member of the Multicultural Student Union and Jepson School speaker’s committee. He was a sprinter for four years on the track team and was named a co-captain his senior year.

“I was able to use things I learned in the classroom on the track with my team, and I also took things I learned from the track into the classroom — things like using incentives, goals and rewards. The two were truly complementary. The wonder of Jepson is that you can couple it with anything. Leadership is truly universal.””

Abreu’s experience in Argentina affirmed his desire to become involved with leadership on an international level, leading to a stint in the Peace Corps following graduation. Abreu spent a year in Corinto, El Salvador, where he led workshops on citizen participation in 18 communities in the northern part of the country. He helped to create a local economic development committee and municipal strategic plan and conducted environmental and diagnostic surveys.

“The leadership school and my background are what allowed me to get the fascinating position I got in the Peace Corps,” he said. “I knew I wanted to go to Latin America. I wanted to see how what I had learned in the classroom would pan out internationally.”

Today, Abreu is a marketing assistant at the National Geographic Society, reporting to the vice-president in the Consumer Marketing Division. His most recent projects have included analyzing and revamping the management of the magazine’s incentive program and serving as a liaison for outside partnerships. Although it is his first foray into the business world, he said his background in leadership studies allowed him to step into the role and succeed.

“You have to understand the organizational culture, and leadership has definitely taught me that,” he said. “You have to understand group dynamics and how it all affects the work environment.”

He made the switch to marketing because he wanted “to learn a lot about something I had never been exposed to before. And this was an organization I had always looked up to and that had opened my eyes to many things. It feels good to be a part of something that so many people enjoy having in their lives.”

Abreu still keeps in close contact with many of his friends from the Jepson School and said he is amazed by the variety in their careers — from coaching and consulting to medical school, music and foreign service. “All of it comes back to leadership.”

By Jessica Ronky Haddad, AW’93 © 2003, Richmond Alumni Magazine

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