Submitted by Luis Gutierrez Aladro, Vice-President for Undergraduate Programs at Tecmilenio University, Mexico for the Positive Living Newsletter (January 2017). Read the rest of the newsletter here.
When you think of a university, the image which appears in your mind will probably be that of a traditional classroom, with a teacher lecturing about what he or she thinks are the most important topics in the world. Most probably, they will be all related to the sciences such as mathematics, physics, history, business, or engineering. Yes, these subjects are very important for understanding how the world functions today…but what about your own inner world? What about what you want, like, need, and hope from life? What if there was a university where, at the core of your education, you learn how to define and develop the competencies to achieve your purpose in life?
My name is Luis Gutierrez Aladro and I currently serve as Vice-President for Undergraduate Programs at Tecmilenio University, a private nonprofit university in Mexico, with 29 campuses around the country and serving more than 52,000 students ranging from high-school to graduate students. We are considered a spinoff from Latin America’s well-known Tecnológico de Monterrey. I hold a Ph.D. in Innovation and Technological Education.
On a more personal note, I have worked in the university setting since 1989, the same year I entered as a freshman at Tec de Monterrey. From day one, I have engaged in different work-related activities, particularly the academic and recruiting process for current and prospective students.
Since the start of my career, I have been committed to improving the quality of life for my fellow citizens through educational endeavors. I have learned that education is the key factor driving a country’s development and its ability to fulfill the fundamental needs of their inhabitants. The opportunity to mix my passion for education with my interest to improve society, as well as my educational design and innovation abilities allows me to become my best self.
Going back to that first paragraph about becoming a university that embraces and encourages students to define their purpose in life, our journey has been influenced by several authors like Martin Seligman, Chris Peterson, M. Csíkszentmihályi, David Cooperrider, and others. It was in 2012 (now looks as far way back) when we established our vision statement: “To help students develop their purpose in life and the competencies to achieve it.” We believe that people are very motivated to live a happy life. We discovered and leveraged many educational and organizational theorists and practitioners who specialized in how to help people find and be their best selves.
In these last four to five years, as members of Universidad Tecmilenio, we have been able to present to different forums around the world, including IPPA, IPEN, the U.N., PESA, OECD, and others where we share our educational model as the first university focused on a purpose in life through positive education. We acknowledge we haven’t yet achieved our full potential. We must focus on learning more, researching our results, and making sure we provide our students with an ecosystem where they can develop their best version of themselves. Moreover, for those who want to share our passion for cultivating these goals, we also want to become the best university to work for.
Last summer, Alberto Perez (leader of mentoring at Tecmilenio University) and I had the opportunity to attend the 9th Biennial International Meaning Conference in Toronto. What a great forum! The experience was enlightening and full of wonderful formal and informal conversations with people such as Paul Wong, Michael Steger, Luis Marrero, Itai Ivtzan, and many more! Every single conversation was full of meaningful information. These dialogues allowed us to better understand positive existential terms and learn new theories that help us appreciate our day to day job. I was able to comprehend at a deeper level that we not only want our students to live a life where they fulfill their purpose, but rather that our goal should be for them to live a meaningful life.
How to show students (for any major we offer, like engineering, or business, or even nutrition or law) what it means to live a meaningful life, how to achieve it, and how to work towards it, is not only our university goal, but it has also become a personal quest. This quest has only one possible outcome: to offer students and personnel the tools and concepts necessary to become all the best they can be.