The reunion with studies, 38 years later

At 55 years old, delivery woman wins iFood scholarship to get her high school diploma and dreams of university — find out Elaine Zulato's story here.

How much happens in 38 years? Careers are established, romances turn into marriage, children are born, grow up, graduate and (sometimes even) leave home. In the case of Elaine Zulato, 38 years was the exact time it took her to go back to school. And iFood has a good share of participation in this reunion.

Elaine's story with iFood began three years ago, when she signed up as an iFood delivery person to supplement her family's income. Her husband had already been retired for some time, and the INSS (National Social Security Institute) income alone was not enough to cover the household bills. 

Like many people looking for a job after age 50, she heard several “no’s” until she got her first job outside the home at iFood. “Any job you look for, the first thing they ask for is to have a high school education. Without it, no door can be opened”, says Elaine.

Today, at age 55, she is just a few months away from earning her high school diploma to build a new path for the second half of her life. Elaine is one of the scholarship recipients of My High School Diploma, the preparation course for iFood delivery people to take the National Youth and Adult Skills Certification Exam (Encceja). A initiative is a partnership between foodtech and Descomplica. 

“I always wanted to finish high school to continue my studies and go to college. When the message appeared on the delivery guys' app, I said: 'I'll try'”, he says.

Looking for your next diploma

38 years ago, Elaine failed a year of high school. At the time, she was 17 years old and was so embarrassed that she wanted to drop out of school. After a while, she started dating her future husband, married him, had two children… And returning to school fell by the wayside. 

In fact, what Elaine did was prioritize her children's studies, who are now a lawyer and a flight attendant who are super proud of their mother's new journey. “They give me a lot of support, especially my daughter, who spends more time in São Paulo. I ask for help and she supports me with what she remembers. In the writing, she was the one who helped me put my ideas on paper”, says Elaine, receiving back all the help she gave when her children were studying.

Elaine returned to studying at the beginning of 2022. She says that the subjects she excels at are biology and Portuguese, and the ones she needs to study a little more are physics and mathematics. She sets aside at least two hours a day to prepare for the test, scheduled to be held on August 28th. 

Sometimes she also sits down to study at night. The day before the interview she gave to iFood News, for example, the delivery woman extended her journey until 2 am. “I study every day, because there is a lot of material and the time until the test is short. And also because I didn’t study for a long time”, he says.

If everything goes well, Elaine plans to rest a little after this marathon and then try to take the Enem (National High School Exam) and also pursue her higher education diploma. “I really like the area of interior design and nursing. I'm very ecletic."

A lot has changed in the 38 years that separate these two Elaines. If at the beginning of the 1980s she felt ashamed for failing in high school, now, at the beginning of the 2020s, she feels pride and an improvement in self-esteem for being close to passing. 

“It is certainly a new life, which represents a future with a lot of knowledge. I couldn't help my children at that time and now, if I have grandchildren, I will be able to study with them. I’m 55 years old, and I’m proud to be that age and go back to school,” he says.

For you, Elaine, for your family and for all of us. Good luck in August!

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