Juan Felipe Beltran

“I’m a big believer in the idea that your biggest growth does not come only from your teachers but from the people you go through experiences with."

For Juan Felipe Beltran (Class of 2014), one of the reasons he chose to study at NYU Abu Dhabi was “the people I met at Candidate Weekend.” He says “I could not have imagined a better group of people to be in university with.”

The growth he experienced with his classmates helped teach him how to engage with people from different places. “When you grow up in a conservative country but are liberal yourself, it is easy to assume that you accept everyone,” he begins. “But when you meet people, that is when you encounter all the stereotypes that you didn't even know you had. For me, it was really important to be at NYUAD to not just believe in the value of diversity but absorb, see and practice it.”

Now a PhD student in Computational Biology at Cornell University, Juan still feels connected to the community that taught him so much. He recounts a memory of unexpectedly bumping into another NYUAD alumnus at a festival in Ithaca, NY. “He called my name and I turned around… we started screaming and hugging.” The peer had recently moved to the area, and though they had only spoken a handful of times as students at NYUAD, Juan helped him unpack and move into his new home. 

Over four years after leaving Abu Dhabi, Juan still maintains his close friendships with classmates from NYUAD, hosting friends from Berkley to South Korea. “NYUAD really catalyzes those [relationships],” he says. “NYUAD builds such a strong community that everyone becomes family.”

Juan Felipe Beltran

Class of 2014

Major: Computer Science

Current Location: Ithaca, New York

Current Role: PhD candidate in Computational Biology at Cornell University


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