Alumni Spotlight: Alexandre (Xandão) Nascimento ’20

The Graded Gazette

Graded Scholar alum Alexandre (Xandão) Nascimento ’20 dreams of changing the world through education. Hailing from a family of lifelong learners, he followed in his parents’ footsteps, pursuing the best opportunities to fulfill his life’s mission. Xandão is currently a public administration student at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and aspires to one day be Brazil’s minister of education. 

In this issue of the Graded Gazette, Xandão shares his experience as a Graded Scholar, his love for theater, plans for his non-profit organization, Projeto Braduca, and advice to future scholars.


As the child of teachers, tell us about the role education plays in your family.

Education has always been a priority in my family. My parents have done whatever they could to pursue their studies while ensuring that my brother and I had the best environment to focus on our education. 

When I was born, my mom strove to finish ensino médio (high school). She continued studying and went on to earn a postgraduate degree in pedagogy. For her, education is more than a profession; it's her life’s calling. My father, on the other hand, holds a degree in mathematics and has worked as an educator for a significant part of his life. My parents were role models for my brother and me. Witnessing their dedication instilled in us a strong work ethic. 

In 2017, my brother received a scholarship to study at Colégio Santo Américo, one of the most prestigious private schools in our neighborhood, where my father worked for over 10 years—initially as a janitor and later as a teaching assistant.

I became a Graded Scholar in 2016—a huge accomplishment for my family. It meant that all of the hard work and dedication that my parents had invested in our education throughout the years had finally paid off. 


How did you learn about the Graded Hitoshi Castro Outreach Program?

I learned about the Graded Outreach Program through Irene, the coordinator of the education center I attended when I wasn't at school. Graded Scholar Program Coordinator Fabi Oliveira contacted her and told her about the Outreach Program. Irene, in turn, recommended me as a candidate. A few years later, here I am, a Graded alumnus. 


How did the Graded Scholar Program impact your life? 

It's hard to pinpoint the various ways that the Graded Scholar Program has impacted my life. I would even go so far as to say that I am still discovering the impact that this opportunity had, not only in my life but also in the lives of my family and friends. 

As a scholar, I had access to an exceptional education and the chance to explore different extracurricular activities and travel. Initially, the Graded Scholar Program made me realize that I do have a place in this world and that I must be proud of my background and my story. It instilled in me confidence about who I am, where I come from, and why I deserve the opportunities that I continue to receive. At the same time, it humbled me. My experience as a scholar offered undeniable privilege, and it gave me the strength and ability to fight for a world where access to opportunity transcends socioeconomic barriers. I will strive to ensure that all young people full of potential understand that their dreams and aspirations matter and are a lot more achievable than they may seem.


What do you love about theater?

I love theater's power to bring the best out of people. When we're on stage, we can be as loud, intense, and silly as we want without judgment. We can truly be ourselves, even when playing the most different characters from ourselves. Theater makes me feel safe, confident, appreciated, and, most importantly, part of something great and beautiful. 


You've acted in many productions. Which role has been your favorite?

I have a great appreciation for each role I have played. However, my role as the Mad Hatter in the musical Alice in Wonderland has a special place in my heart. It was my second musical at Graded, and I loved every part of it—my crazy character, the colorful costumes, and the lively music. I had never felt so thrilled and alive on stage.

After my last performance, I remember going backstage to the dressing room to take off my costume. As I did so, tears began falling down my face because I feared I'd never feel that way again. I guess I wasn't ready to leave Wonderland.

Xandão as the Mad Hatter in Graded's production Alice in Wonderland.


You had the opportunity to travel to China with the Graded Choir. What were the most memorable parts of your trip?

I vividly remember riding the cableway up the Great Wall of China and walking along that massive structure, which seemed to stretch forever.

I will also never forget ascending the steps during our visit to the Forbidden City, where I discovered some of the most breathtaking views I have ever encountered. The place made me feel like a character from Kung Fu Panda! 

Speaking of breathtaking experiences in China, singing at the AMIS Festival's Honor Mixed Choir was probably my favorite moment from the entire trip. Sharing the stage with more than 100 singers from all over the world was one of the greatest opportunities Graded has given me. 


Who at Graded influenced you the most?

Graded brought many amazing people into my life, but the person who most influenced me was Ms. Gaby, my English teacher throughout my time in the Outreach Program and as a Graded Scholar.

Ms. Gaby’s influence went far beyond teaching me a new language. She demonstrated a passion and aptitude for teaching that moved and inspired me. She taught us many things, from speaking and writing in English to believing in ourselves and our potential. She made four-hour classes feel like 10-minute conversations that you wished lasted longer. But, most importantly, she made us feel heard, appreciated, and safe; safe to make mistakes, take risks, and share our accomplishments.

To be honest, I can't imagine where I would be without her—I certainly wouldn't be here writing this response after accomplishing so much during and after my time at Graded.


What advice would you give to incoming Graded Scholars?

Being a Graded Scholar is challenging but gratifying. You will go through a myriad of new and exciting experiences, and it's perfectly okay to feel overwhelmed at times. Nonetheless, I hope you embrace the opportunities that come your way and allow yourselves to explore the many gifts that a Graded education has to offer. 

At last, remember and value the people who supported you along the way, and don't forget that you are worthy of this opportunity and belong here.

Xandão poses with fellow Graded Choir singers.


You’re involved in several social projects to promote access to education, including your very own Projeto Braduca. Tell us about the organization and your plans.

Projeto Braduca is an NGO that offers free English classes to public school students from all over Brazil. 

Considering the lack of quality English education in the Brazilian public educational system and the important role English fluency plays in academic and professional success, Braduca was born to ensure that public school students have access to quality English instruction and, consequently, the many opportunities that it brings. 

Nowadays, Projeto Braduca is supported by over 40 volunteers who have impacted more than 1000 students since 2020. Besides classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced English learners, we also offer mentorships for public school students who wish to apply to university or other academic programs abroad. Our students have been accepted to summer camps at NYU and Cambridge and have also received full scholarships to study at American institutions, including Wellesley College and Haverford College.

Regarding plans, we want to reach even more states in Brazil and partner with other NGOs that share similar values and objectives, such as Fundação Estudar and Fundação Lemann.

Additionally, we plan to formalize Braduca as an official association so we can receive donations from governmental and non-governmental institutions. These contributions would be used to provide academic materials for students in need and assist in covering application fees and fluency exams. 


As a public administration student at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FVG), what are your goals for the future?

I want to continue working with public school students, although I haven't yet decided how and where. I do know that education is where my heart is. That being said, I will continue to follow my dream of changing the world, one student at a time. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll see me announced as Brazil's minister of education.