During graduation week at EARTH University, the prestigious Sustainability Prize was awarded to María del Rosario Chávez Lazarte (’13, Peru) for her graduation project entitled, “Development Project Portfolio for the Implementation of Integrated Farms in the Community of Verdetica, Costa Rica.” All fourth-year students design and complete a graduation project, comparable to a senior thesis at other universities, but with the unique emphasis on practical experience and community involvement that is only found at EARTH.
María will receive a $10,000 cash award, of which $9,000 goes to her and $1,000 to her high school. The prize is awarded by The Sustainability Laboratory (www.sustainabilitylabs.org) in recognition of the graduation project that best incorporates the Five Core Principles of Sustainability: the material domain, the economic domain, the domain of life, the social domain and the spiritual domain. The prize ceremony culminates the student’s senior thesis project design work, in the course facilitated by professors Jane Yeomans and Irene Alvarado, which also includes a yearly seminar with Dr. Michael Ben-Eli, founder of the Sustainability Laboratory and author of the five principles.
Maria’s ambitious graduation project developed a portfolio of projects based on the concept of integrated farming in the community of Verdetica in Roxana of Pococí, Costa Rica. She created programs in clean energy, agriculture, human development, water harvesting and sustainability and provided a work plan, training and consultancy for participating families. As a result of the project, the community improved their interpersonal relationships with one another, overcame limitations as a group and adopted environmentally sustainable practices as a means to improving their quality of life.
After receiving the award, an emotional Maria shared her reaction to having been selected for the honor. “The truth is I’m so happy and excited to receive the award. Apart from the fact that it represents all the effort I’ve made this year, it also recognizes the work of this community, which was the whole point of the project. I was able to use the technical training I learned here at EARTH and implement it by utilizing available resources in a sustainable way, and improving the quality of life for the people of this community.”
María believes that the approaches taken in her graduation project are applicable in Peru and intends to apply her learning in rural communities in Peru.
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