A Tzeltal student’s impassioned pursuit of education

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: October 28th, 2021

When Antonio Pérez Sántiz (’21, Mexico) was eight years old, he read in a book that education is the key to success. Since then, he has not stopped striving to find new learning opportunities for professional and personal growth.

Antonio is in his last year of the career.

Antonio comes from the Tzeltal peoples of San Juan Cancuc, Chiapas. His parents grow commercial coffee, as well as corn, beans, and more for their own consumption.

At the age of 13, Antonio moved away from his indigenous community to live on his own in the nearest city – driven to expand his possibilities to study. He worked hard and studied harder until he graduated from high school at the top of his class, determined to achieve his goal: obtaining a university degree and becoming a leader of change.

Antonio and his colleagues working at the Guácimo Campus.

With the support of EARTH University graduates and his schoolteachers, Antonio was accepted to EARTH and awarded a full scholarship from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He became the first person in his family to attend university. Now in his fourth year, he is completing his internship at a coffee farm in native Chiapas, where he has been designing a manual for the sustainable management of solid waste. Concurrently, for his Graduation Project, he is evaluating the biological-control abilities of three lactic-acid bacteria in the cultivation of cacao and citrus, to ultimately reduce the use of agrochemicals.

Portrait of Antonio.

Upon graduating from EARTH, Antonio plans to pursue a master’s degree in environmental economics. “I am interested in this subject because it can be used to counteract the sustainability problems we face globally,” he says. “I want to promote the economic development of my community in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.”

Antonio says that the opportunity to study at EARTH has changed his life forever. “EARTH has radically impacted my path in life and changed me – from the way I express myself to the way I see the world. Now, I have a broader perspective, I dream bigger, and I feel capable of achieving my goals.”

We know that Antonio’s characteristic effort will propel him toward continued success and distinguish him as an example to follow for the hundreds of indigenous kids in his community and beyond.