Friday, January 2, 2009

Businesses and Non-Profits - Marlon Ramirez '02

Colombian native, Marlon Ramirez had several leadership roles in Brown's Latin American Student's Organization (LASO) and. Today, Marlon travels back and forth between São Paulo, Brazil and New York. He sits on the Board of BrightSteps – Languages for Little Ones and is also a Founder of Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras, David Neeleman's new startup airline in Brazil.

BrightSteps was launched in September 2005 as a Saturday Spanish program for 3-6 year old children in New York's Upper West Side. Since then the language program has expanded to Spanish, Mandarin, French and Italian and now enrolls children as young as 6 months old. In early 2005 Marlon met with his parents Carmenza and Gildardo and his brother Cesar to discuss education business ideas. Given Carmenza and Gildardo's early childhood education background and Marlon and Cesar's business backgrounds, it didn't take very long for the family to realize the need for foreign language education at the early childhood level. The question was, “How do we address this need?”

Through a fun hands-on approach to learning, individualized attention, and a focus on culture, BrightSteps has performed well and has reached as many as 70 enrollments in its current location.

Brown was instrumental in helping Marlon gain an international perspective of the world, through the diversity of friendships he established and his experience studying abroad in Brazil he quickly realized the extent of interdependencies between economies and global institutions. And with the growing Spanish speaking population in the United States and the growth of Asia, it became clear to Marlon that Americans need to learn other languages and cultures to remain competitive in today's ever changing global landscape.

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