“In 2012, we started looking at a new educational model. We asked what was most important to students, parents and employers, and what they wanted in their lives. The answer was to be happy, to have happy kids or happy employees. We thought as a university we should approach the topic in a very serious way,” shares Rosalinda Ballesteros Valdes, Vice President of High School Programs for Universidad TecMilenio. After one phone call from the Provost to Martin Seligman, MAPP’s Education Director James Pawelski was soon on a plane to Monterrey to consult with her team.
After collaborating with James, Rosalinda enrolled in MAPP and began integrating her research into her work. Though the commute from Mexico wasn’t easy, Rosalinda used the experience to expand her network. “I took the opportunity to fly in early one time and see the city, which is wonderful. I also extended my weekends in New York and Connecticut to meet the friends and families of my classmates, which was an amazing experience.”
For her capstone, Rosalinda developed a career advising model that integrates meaning into the future goals of high school students. “Instead of thinking about where you want to go to school or what you want to major in, you’re thinking about what your purpose in life is.” Her plan helps students know more about themselves, learn how to set targets and stay on-task when an achievement is long-term.
At the college level, Universidad TecMilenio now requires all of its students to take an introductory positive psychology course. For Rosalinda’s high school program, positive psychology interventions and exercises are built into the curriculum. For example, there is a popular music appreciation course that was developed through the lens of positive humanities. Rosalinda reports that, “Participants have more emotional intelligence and can understand emotions in a different way after taking these courses.”
Rosalinda’s model, much like MAPP, uses self-reflection for growth. “At the end of the semester, we ask our students to discuss what increased their wellbeing, how they felt and where their passions were during an activity. We have a life and career planning course at the end of junior year. They go back to their reflections portfolio from previous years, and that’s where they can discover what’s important to them and what gives them meaning.”
Looking back, Rosalinda found her most meaningful moments at Penn were those in which she connected with fellow MAPP students. Whether it was going out for dinner and salsa dancing with friends or speaking to alumni at the annual Summit, Rosalinda truly made the most of her relationships. “The alumni community is amazing,” she shares, “It’s one of the best support networking groups that I’ve ever seen.”