The DAAD Prize is awarded on an annual basis to highlight the outstanding academic achievements and contributions to society made by international students attending German universitiesThis year, the DAAD Prize at Freie Universität Berlin for outstanding achievements made by international students has been awarded to Sebastian Garcia-Torres. Originally from Ecuador, Garcia-Torres is currently studying public economics at Freie Universität Berlin. Presented by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the prize comes with a cash award of 1,000 euros. Garcia-Torres is receiving the prize for outstanding academic achievement in his bachelor’s degree program in economics, as well as for his exceptional contributions to society, from his involvement in student initiatives and university committees at the School of Business and Economics to his work raising awareness of sexualized violence among children and young people.
"It is a great honor to receive the DAAD Prize. I wouldn’t be here without the support of the German Academic Exchange Service, the Department of Economics at the John F. Kennedy Institute, and the School of Business and Economics at Freie Universität Berlin. I may be the one receiving the prize, but it was very much a joint effort," said Sebastian Garcia-Torres upon receiving the award.
Among other things, Garcia-Torres helped organize the lecture series on critical perspectives in economics held at Freie Universität’s School of Business and Economics. The twenty-two-year-old also acted as chairperson of the education committee at the School of Business and Economics, a group responsible for designing degree program regulations and advising on other related organizational aspects. Garcia-Torres previously dedicated his free time to working at the non-governmental organization "Innocence in Danger e.V.," where he helped to develop courses for schools in Berlin that raise awareness of sexualized violence among children and young people. Having gained much experience in the field of preventing child sexual abuse, Garcia-Torres carried out a project to pass on his knowledge at the Deutsche Schule in Quito, Ecuador, where he had previously earned his high school diploma.
Garcia-Torres came to Freie Universität Berlin in 2019 to study for a bachelor’s degree in economics. "Freie Universität Berlin is an exceptional German university," he says, explaining his decision. He adds, "I also find the university’s history fascinating, namely the fact that students came together to create a space where freedom of thought could flourish. Berlin is also a multicultural city that is open to new people, ideas, and cultures. But there’s a more personal reason why I ended up choosing Freie Universität Berlin: My mother earned her doctorate here thirty years ago." Garcia-Torres has continued his studies at the university, starting a master’s degree program in public economics during the 2023/2024 winter semester.
The DAAD Prize for outstanding achievements made by international students attending German universities is awarded to one student per institution of higher education each year, where the award winners are selected by their universities.
The Latin words veritas, justitia, and libertas, which frame the seal of Freie Universität Berlin, stand for the values that have defined the academic ethos of Freie Universität since its founding in December 1948.