Trails of an Education – ULACIT


After graduating from IPA, I went to San José, Costa Rica to continue my education at a college level.  My father enrolled me at the Universidad de Costa Rica located in San Pedro Montes de Oca.  The reason for choosing this university, is that the University of Panama was on strike and there were indications it would remain closed for a long time.

I was not prepared to study that hard so I dropped out after a year and went to work for a banana exporting company.  I started as an Accountant and ended up as General Manager after three years.  They were after my English-speaking skills and my understanding of the banana industry which I acquired while living in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro where my father worked as a Commissary Inspector for the United Fruit Company.

I stayed in Costa Rica for almost ten years.  It was an incredible experience.  At age 25, I was making $2,000 a month plus a company car allowance.  I know this amount doesn’t sound like much today, but at  the time it was big money.  I lived like a king!  I earned $2,000 and I spent $2,000—didn’t save a copper.   When you’re young, you feel like Superman and fear nothing.  I learned this is not so as I aged later in life.

At my father’s insistence, I returned to Panama and went to work for Texaco as an invoicing  clerk making $430.00 a month.  Quite a difference in status.  I started to learn that saving money is a wise thing to do.  I worked for Texaco for about twelve years and escalated to Marine Sales Supervisor earning $1,500 a month plus a nice company car.  I got married and planted my roots at El Bosque where I now live.

At age 50 I decided to go back to school again.  My choice was Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT).  After three years, I received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.  For three years I studied like a monk, in an effort to catch up for all those years I procrastinated.

My final academic average was 96.38 percent which earned me the academic distinction of Summa Cum Laude Probatus.  I feel very proud of this distinction.

I immediately enrolled myself for a Master’s degree in Business Administration, but only got halfway through, since I lost my job and couldn’t pay the tuition fees.  This is something on my To Do List which I plan to complete in the near future.  This high level of education is very expensive in Panama.

During my last year at ULACIT, I was offered to teach on a part-time basis which I accepted.  I was a Business Administration professor for five years.  It was really pleasant being able to teach what I had learned in real life, plus what you find in academic textbooks.  I call it pragmatic teaching.

When ULACIT was purchased by the Laureate International Group in 2003, I was suspended from teaching.  It was very disappointing, but it’s a fact of life that good things don’t last forever.  I never taught at a university again.  I tried to teach at a  high school level, but couldn’t adjust myself to students’ indiscipline, so I quit after three troublesome years.  I have not taught since.

Last Saturday morning at just about 6:30 a.m. (-5 GMT), I went to my former Alma Mater and took a few pictures for this post.  This is how the university looked at daybreak.  Here we go.

Photograph of my diploma of Bachelor of Business Administration degree issued by ULACIT on October 22, 1999.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Photograph of my diploma of Bachelor of Business Administration degree issued by ULACIT on October 22, 1999. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Picture of a large ULACIT blue sign outside the college premises at daybreak.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
Picture of a large ULACIT blue sign outside the college premises at daybreak. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
View of the attractive gate at the entrance of ULACIT.  Sorry for the electric lines, I just couldnt avoid them in the picture.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
View of the attractive gate at the entrance of ULACIT. Sorry for the electric lines, I just couldn’t avoid them in the picture. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
This is the entrance to ULACITs building.  It looked dark early in the morning, yet I met several early birds already at the cafeteria.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
This is the entrance to ULACIT’s building. It looked dark early in the morning, yet I met several early birds having breakfast at the cafeteria. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
A solemn bust of Hipocrates at the entrance of the building surrounded by deep green ferns.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
A solemn white bust of Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) at the entrance of the building surrounded by lush green ferns. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
A panoramic view of ULACITs cafeteria with several students having their breakfast.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
A panoramic view of ULACIT’s cafeteria with several students having their early breakfast. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
Another view of the terrace of the cafeteria with beautiful white ornamentations.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)  (
Another view of the terrace of the cafeteria with beautiful white ornamentations. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.) (
A convenient No Smoking sign inside the cafeterias terrace.  What an excellent idea from the Administration Staff of ULACIT.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
A convenient “No Smoking” sign inside the cafeteria’s terrace. What an excellent idea from the Administration Staff of ULACIT. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)
View of one of several ULACITs  parking lots.  There were no cars visible at the moment; very unusual.  (Credit:  Omar Upegui R.)
View of one of several ULACIT’s parking lots. There were no cars visible at the moment; very unusual. (Credit: Omar Upegui R.)

Tomorrow I’ll include several pictures of ULACIT’s students.  Some of them were having breakfast and others were studying for an exam.  All of them were very polite and eager to pose for the camera.  Good Day!

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