It is not uncommon to find Cecilia Paredes in her office, surrounded by colleagues or students, engaged in lively and intense conversation. Other times, she may be spotted cycling through campus, playing basketball or just enjoying a fleeting stroll through the wooded scenery of Campus Gustavo Galindo. Receiving an email from Cecilia that includes links to academic articles on various topics, or finding a book on one’s desk accompanied by a written note from her, are also familiar experiences for many. Cecilia is a woman of many facets, whose notable attributes are intellectual curiosity and an unflagging dedication to learning. This approach is summed up in her mantra: "If you disagree with something, don’t expect someone else to change it, but work hard to make that change happen." This reflection prompted her participation in the process that led to her achieving the position of Academic Vice Rector of ESPOL, the institution that she had preferred from childhood.
As one of the few women studying Mechanical Engineering at her alma mater, she understood that inequalities founded on the basis of “cultural identity” can and should be corrected, but she also considers that some restrictions are self-imposed, and that her path could stretch as far as she wanted. Thus, she set out to forge her destiny through determined preparation. Her goal, when she completed her undergraduate studies, was to gain a Master’s Degree, which she achieved at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Her degree was in Materials Science and Engineering, and this provided her with an opening into Ecuadorian industry. But her chosen route required a further detour, and she decided to take it, finally obtaining her doctoral degree. This decision was carefully thought out, and meant the beginning of a new career as an academic. This change of direction helped to strengthen her flexible disposition towards life. As she herself commented, years later, at a meeting with colleagues: "You can change your plans in life: what you cannot do is just act without thinking."