Members of the Movement: Sandra Cotuna Runs to Build Schools

At buildOn, we celebrate the creative and adventurous steps that members of the buildOn movement take to support education and service at home and abroad. Our “Members of the Movement” series highlights the vital work these supporters are doing to help empower youth and end the education crisis.

Meet Sandra Cotuna: actuarial analyst by profession, determined athlete and champion of education by passion. She’s combining her love for running with her dream to empower people across the globe through education.

After running her first marathon last November, Sandra was hooked but wanted to find a way to help people while continuing to race. She found out about buildOn and has committed to building three schools in developing countries. Sandra is raising funds by running a marathon on each of the seven continents (including Antarctica!) between now and 2020.

Sandra has always known how important it is to invest in education and literacy. Throughout her childhood in Romania, she saw the ways that education can empower people to lift themselves out of poverty. Though her family didn’t have much, Sandra did have the chance to go to school.

“As a child, one of my favorite things to do was sitting on the top of my bed and reading children’s books. Sometimes I read by candlelight because the electricity was out. I wish every child in this world could read and get immersed into the magical and beautiful world of books,” she says.

Sandra recently finished the Iceland Marathon and has already raised enough to fully fund her first school, which will be built in rural western Nepal in 2016. Sandra will be there to help dig the foundation and work alongside the community members to bring the gift of education to the village.

Sandra is making an impact locally as well, spending time with the elderly, fundraising for community youth programs and passing out food to the homeless with friends near her home in New York City. Her philosophy about service is simple:

“It’s a very simple equation for me,” she says. “I help others and I get happy.”

Sandra is using social media to document her journey to run marathons on all seven continents and construct three schools with buildOn. Follower her on Instagram, Twitter or her blog. You can also donate to her campaign on Sandra’s buildOn fundraising page.