International Women’s Day – March 8 – celebrates the global advances that humanity has charted toward women’s rights, equality, and empowerment. We use the day to reflect on the innumerable contributions that women make to communities everywhere.
At EARTH University, we have long sought gender parity within our student body. At present, women comprise 51 percent – a momentous achievement that compels us to continue working toward equality in the spaces we inhabit. We recognize there is still much work to be done to bolster women’s economic power and political standing around the globe.
To join in the celebration of this day, we have compiled short stories about 11 EARTH women who fill us with pride and inspire people around the world.
In 1990, EARTH University opened its doors for the first time. Karla Cruz (’93, Honduras) was the first of that cohort’s seven women to arrive at our Guacimo campus that year. For her personality, character, and empathy, she was asked to deliver the welcome address at the academic year’s inauguration ceremony. Throughout her scholastic and professional careers, Karla has been characterized by her commitment to feminine empowerment.
Today, more than a quarter century since starting at EARTH, Karla works as the coordinator of the environmental management and sanitation unit for the city of Siquirres, Costa Rica. There, she is busy training townsfolk – endeavoring to convert the area into a model of integrated waste management by the year 2022.
Outside of work, she promotes empowerment through her support of a non-profit village bank that finances small businesses and grants personal loans to women – thus incentivizing saving and encouraging economic self-sufficiency.
EARTH is a trailblazer in leadership education for agricultural and rural sustainability. The University’s alumnae – now 755 – have hailed from 35 countries.
While students, Blessing and Victoria founded Dirt to Power – an initiative to create community gardens and recreational areas in Costa Rica and their native Nigeria. They want such spaces to serve as educational rendezvous for local women, children, and teens, as well as sites for the production of local food.
Karina coordinates the Women’s Economic Empowerment Program of EARTH Futures, the University’s social impact platform. She also oversees a personal project – Sembrando Sonrisas – which develops educational spaces for at-risk youth in Costa Rica. Her curriculum spans environmental consciousness, food security, self-confidence, and ethics.
Micaela and Roberta are the Galápagos Islands’ first line of defense. Having had discovered their passion for conservation and ecotourism, they became certified as Naturalist Guides – no easy feat! They have been trained in diverse subjects, enabling them to teach about the unique ecosystem’s natural history and the ways in which it’s being protected.
Our internationally sourced faculty includes 13 women. They are role models who help students to learn by doing.
In 2017, after 22 years as an EARTH professor, Chan was named Dean – the first woman to occupy the role. Armed with a Master’s in Food Science and a Ph.D. in Food Engineering from the University of Montpellier (France), she is leading not only changes to the curriculum and academic affairs, but also the promotion of gender equity’s necessity for development.
Gilman is the professor of applied ecology, a required course for all third years that aims to teach sustainable resource management. She also conducts research into ecosystem health, species richness, and biodiversity inventories in EARTH’s wetlands and forests. After finishing her Bachelor’s in Physical Geography, she earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles (USA).
Coupled with her bioenergy research, Linkimer teaches physics and renewable energies classes to fourth years. Additionally, she co-directs EARTH’s Center for Research and Development in Renewable Energies and coordinates the Certificate in Renewable Energies – a joint project with RENAC of Berlin. She holds a Master’s degree from CATIE (The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) as well as a Ph.D. from CATIE (Costa Rica) and Purdue University (USA).
Amorim holds a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain) and the Federal University of Piauí (Brazil). She studied food technology at the Portuguese Catholic University and completed a Master’s in Food Chemistry Technologies from the Federal University of Ceará (Brazil). Having developed systems that assess food quality and value-added natural antioxidants in fruit waste, she currently teaches the food processing course to fourth years.
Chavarría teaches classes in inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. Holding a Master’s in Agricultural Chemistry and New Foods from the Autonomous University of Madrid, she used to work in quality control for the pharmaceutical industry as well as in the procurement and enrichment of food-grade botanical extracts for the food industry. She is an expert in use of analytics equipment, quality systems implementation, metrological control, chemical interactions, and product formulation.
These are but a handful of the stories of women who have made their mark on EARTH. There are countless others who’ve dedicated their lives to seeking better solutions for the future of humanity. As a University, we remain committed to the fight for gender equity and will continue being a platform for young dreamers to grow into leaders of change and transformers of society.
For more inspiring stories about EARTH women, click here.