International Student Success Story: From Brazil to Harvard University

By Taaza Facts

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International Student Success Story: From Brazil to Harvard University


by Dori Zinn | In

Studying in the U.S. | 22 April 2024
| Updated on: April 24th, 2024

Michael Cerqueira is originally from Brazil, and even though he recently graduated from Harvard he always knew he wanted to return home to bring major change to his community.

“I went to Harvard University with great clarity that I would go back to Brazil,” Michael says. “All my dreams, my career [and] the way to impact the world is connected with Brazil.”

Michael graduated with a master’s degree in public administration. Now he works with major groups in Brazil to encourage others from his country to study in the U.S. to make a difference in their communities. Here’s how MPOWER Financing helped him pursue his education and how he’s telling others to follow a similar path.



Finding student loan funding

Education expenses are high for international students, and Michael expected to pay a hefty amount. A master’s degree in public education at Harvard costs upwards of nearly US$92,000 a year. Luckily for Michael, he had some help.

“The process of studying abroad is very expensive,” he says. “I got a series of scholarships but was missing part of the living costs, which are important. MPOWER entered and supported me.”

Michael received funding from private businesses as well as nonprofits in Brazil to cover some of his expenses, and his MPOWER student loan filled the remaining funding gap, so Michael could complete his education during his two years at Harvard.

How to take advantage of studying abroad in the states

Borrowing money can hold a lot of potential international students back from making the leap to studying in America. Michael says some Brazilian students are hesitant to borrow money through American loans because the conversion rate isn’t favorable to them. But taking out a loan is worth the cost in the long run, he says.

“I would never stop taking advantage of the opportunity to study abroad because you don’t want to get the loan,” Michael says. “My invitation to Brazilians is not to let this be an impediment for you to study abroad.”

Michael didn’t have to start repaying his loan until he graduated. And he’s been able to comfortably make loan payments since he’s currently working with The Lemann Foundation, one of the groups that helped cover the cost of his education at Harvard. Keeping his U.S.-based bank account also has helped streamline the repayment process.

“MPOWER is a very simple solution, because it’s all online,” he says. “It’s very competitive in terms of interest. Payment conditions are also flexible.” 

Right now, MPOWER Financing offers student loan interest rates starting at 12.99% (13.98% APR) or 12.74% (13.72% APR) with an auto pay discount.

Putting that education to use right away

Michael always knew he’d head back to Brazil once he finished his master’s at Harvard, and now he’s working directly with his community and sharing with others how valuable it can be to become an international student.

“Today I’m working on increasing the number of Brazilians who study abroad and representing the diversity of Brazil,” he says. “I’m talking about black Brazilians and Brazilians of low socioeconomic consistencies [and] working with The Lemann Foundation to be able to increase this number of Brazilians studying abroad.” 

He is continuously telling others that investing in the opportunity to study in the U.S. has a great return rate. 

“Don’t be afraid to apply,” he says. “Don’t give up, because no matter how difficult the process is, no matter how expensive it is, there are several possibilities and organizations that will support you.”


Taaza Facts

I am a multifaceted content creator with expertise in blogging, Finance, and Cryptocurrency reviews. My creative journey involves weaving captivating stories in blogs, designing aesthetically pleasing and functional websites, and dissecting the nuances of cinema. We are dedicated to sharing our passion and insights with a global audience.

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