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Community, International Studies, Awards, Departments & programs, Graduate students
Not only has Vanessa Milost Gonzalez founded her own international company as a student—a feat impressive on its own—she has now won a major award for her work and dedication to her start-up consultation business.
Gonzalez, an MA student in international studies, won the 2019 Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection Female Founder Award for her start-up business, Aplica!, together with co-founder Luciana Saldanha Fortes, a student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology.
The Venture Prize is SFU’s largest entrepreneurship competition and has been supporting early-stage entrepreneurs and start-ups at Simon Fraser University for more than a decade.
Aplica! provides individualized guidance to students in Brazil applying to college or university in Canada or the United States. Gonzalez and Fortes assist students with navigating governmental and institutional formalities and provide guidance and consultation for students to help them understand their interests and options.
“We’re not just prepping for Ivy League schools,” Gonzalez says. “We’re committed to helping students know what works for them.” Aplica! draws on a wealth of research to help place clients in the most appropriate schools for their unique needs.
The Venture Prize is accompanied by a $2500 monetary award which will help Gonzalez and Fortes further develop Aplica!. They hope to add online services and video content while retaining their personalized approach.
“We want to specialize more in the Canadian application process,” says Gonzalez. “It’s more affordable, and the prospects for employment post-graduation, and even for immigration, are much better,” she says.
Raised in Brazil, Gonzalez earned her BA in economics and international studies from the Bryn Mawr College in the U.S. She went on to enroll in her master’s program at SFU in August 2018.
Gonzalez credits her double major in economics and international studies as a key factor for her role in founding Aplica!: “While economics helped me develop quantitative skills, international studies gave me an interdisciplinary view of the world that helped me understand and address the most pressing issues facing society.”
For Gonzalez and Fortes, winning the Female Founder Award was a great honour: “We are just starting to bring Aplica! to Canada, and to win an award at this stage gives us a boost to invest more time and resources into our project. We couldn’t be prouder to achieve recognition as female entrepreneurs in an entrepreneurial landscape that is still very much male-dominated.”