[wpvideo QUlOy7dv]

Francesco Maria De Ponte, a 26-year-old student with autism, graduated from LUISS yesterday. Francesco is a nice story that makes us proud, because it tells about sharing, about inclusiveness, about tearing down barriers, about opportunities sought and found. About dedication, results, dreams and goals.

He already held a bachelor in Communication, and received constant support during the past five years at university from LUISS students and tutors. He began his path with more difficulties than his colleagues, but he committed and dedicated himself to the goals he aimed for, that he eventually and successfully achieved yesterday.

We often self-impose excessive barriers to our expectations. We think we are not enough for our ambitions, or we believe that the space we step into is too barren. We believe more in obstacles than in opportunities, rather than seeing opportunities in obstacles. In short, we are not jugaad enough.

We try in many ways to share with students the willingness to overcome these barriers with numbers of initiatives of social inclusion that take place in LUISS. Last week, the project “Autistici e Giardinieri” was launched in the campus of viale Romania, involving 30 people with autism in a path of garden therapy, together with LUISS students, staff and associations of the elderly in the neighbourhood.

There is no diversity where there is awareness, and there are no barriers where hands are outstretched to offer mutual help.

Sir James Matthew Barrie, a Scottish writer, told: “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”

Francesco never doubted he could fly. He eventually made it, with a brilliant 110/100 and his bag full of dreams still untouched.