The quest for knowledge and academic excellence are EARTH University values that mark the personal and professional development of our students and graduates. One such example is Alejandra Valenzuela (’04, Ecuador), who recently returned to EARTH – 15 years after her graduation.
In Ecuador, Alejandra works as the general manager of VABAGRO – her family’s business that produces and markets tropical plants, such as orchids and anthurium. During her time at EARTH, she stoked her affinity for ornamental horticulture, with the intention of continuing her family’s legacy.
A need for more knowledge
Recently, she has been growing her knowledge of in-vitro multiplication and biotechnology techniques to obtain improved plant varieties. Such understanding presents new business opportunities through the diversification of their products and boosted sale of seedlings both nationally and internationally.
“When I studied at EARTH, I took a course about in-vitro propagation techniques. I knew that the University had grown in knowledge and technology over the years, so I could fill my knowledge gaps for the benefit of my business,” Alejandra said.
Upon receiving Alejandra’s request for continuing education, the University set out to meet the need. With the help of Ana Cristina Tamayo, professor of applied genetics, it was possible to offer a personalized, skills-development course focused on obtaining improved varieties through plant tissue.
In-vitro propagation consists of reproducing an improved variety or bettering such a variety through genetic modification. Here’s how it works: Desirable characteristics within a plant are selected, they are brought into the lab, and vegetable tissue is extracted. It is then subjected to nutrient-dense liquid or solid media. As a result, plants suited for multiplication are formed.
Returning to campus
Alejandra was excited to return to EARTH for further training after so much time away. “Coming back to the University is a chance to reminisce about the entire period of teaching, living together, and friendship – to live again in the familial environment I enjoyed when I was a student. I’m really happy to pass through the corridors and classrooms and to see the professors who are still giving classes. It is as if no time has passed. It feels good to arrive to the place that was my home for four years.”
Alejandra is still grateful to the University for imparting the value of sustainable development, the necessity of maintaining an integrated vision of agriculture that is in harmony with the environment.
Upon asking about the relationship between EARTH and its graduates, Alejandra said, “It’s a positive relationship of family and professionalism in which we provide mutual support for professional development, to continue learning and growing.”