Meet five graduates from the Class of 2015!

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: December 4th, 2015

Alex Mukiibi


(‘15, Uganda) - The MasterCard Foundation Scholar

What are your plans for after graduation?
I want to do a master’s degree in soil management at a university in South Africa. I hope to specialize in this field and go back to my community and show them how to use fertilizers to improve their production.

Besides that, I want to work with an organization that supports rural extension and small farmers. I want to increase my knowledge and share it with those who need it most.

What is the best advice that you’ve received at the University?

Alex en route to the banana farm to work on his graduation project.

Alex en route to the banana farm to work on his graduation project.

The best advice I’ve received is to be positive, tolerant and put love into everything that I do. I think that is going to help me achieve the success I aspire to.

Tell us about your graduation project:
My graduation project was really exciting. In my country, banana is one of the most important crops and is a staple part of our diet, however, there are always a lot of production problems.
I decided to work on controlling nematodes using endophytic mushrooms, which are biological inputs that decrease the need for nematocides and chemicals, which helps farmers save money.

Arely Quirós Alpízar


(‘15, Costa Rica)

What is the best advice that you’ve received at the University?
When I was in first year, I met a third-year student from Costa Rica called Karina Poveda. She told me, “Take advantage of every opportunity that this place gives you and always give the best of yourself,” and that’s what I have tried to do throughout my stay at EARTH.

What does your family think of the education you’ve received at EARTH?

In 2014, Arely completed a three-month internship at Chatham University in Pennsylvania.

In 2014, Arely completed a three-month internship at Chatham University in Pennsylvania.

My family is happy and they like that everything here is practical, and the fact that I’ve gotten involved in many different projects. They know that I study agronomy, but they also believe I’ve grown as a leader and many other things.

What are you going to miss the most?
I’ve made lifelong friendships here and I’m going to miss that they aren’t here in the country together with me. EARTH is a natural space that’s filled with very sincere relationships.

Isaiah Lekesike


(‘15, Kenya)

What does your family think of the education you’ve received at EARTH?
Graduating from university is a huge achievement for any family, and even more so for mine. They are excited because I’m finished and entering the job market and soon I’ll be able to help them out.

Tell us about your internship:

In the photo, Isaiah (right) presenting his graduation project

In the photo, Isaiah (right) presenting his graduation project “Design and construction of three models of acuaponics units for a small urban and rural family”.”.

My internship was so great, I don’t even know what words I could use to describe my experience at Frieda’s in California. I met incredible people and I learned a ton of things, as a person and as a professional.
I feel like I learned much more that I was able to contribute to them. The energy there is super positive and everyone motivated me to keep doing my best. It was a wonderful experience.

How has EARTH changed your life?
Personally, I can say that it has changed everything: who I am as a person and I how I view others. I had the opportunity to interact with people who think totally different than me, and it helped me to develop patience, the ability to sit down and listen to other viewpoints and find the right way to express what I went and at the same time work with others.

Michel Chamoun Yunes


(‘15, Ecuador)

During the graduation ceremony, the University awarded Michel Chamoun the 2015 EARTH Prize in recognition of his academic excellence, values, and social and environmental commitment.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I want to go home and work at the foundation I started three years ago, focusing on training women. We’ve worked in developing small businesses for women who are the head of their households, mostly in baking and pastries, so that they can have a source of income and take care of their family. Later, I want to educate others about agriculture and waste management, above all in the areas of recycling waste and organic compost.

Tell us about your graduation project:

Michel (left) al the Food Processing Laboratory

Michel (left) al the Food Processing Laboratory

My project is very similar to the work EARTH does through its educational model. It is an initiative developed by UNESCO about 10 years ago called “Education for sustainable development.”
The study was based on research I did at a school in Flamingo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, and from that research I developed a plan to help the school transform their culture and educate their students on the importance of social awareness and sustainable community development for a more just society. It is education based on projects, a transformation of the traditional curriculum that allows students to interact with the community and the natural spaces around them.

Did EARTH meet your expectations?
EARTH met my expectations and more; when I leave I’ll bring everything with me although my heart is always here. I know I’ll return though because you always have to come back and visit family.

Leidyana de León Marín


(‘15, Panamá)

What are your plans for after graduation?
I’m applying to several jobs for next year, I want to gain more experience before applying for a master’s degree. I’m really interested in studying phytopathology and hydroponics.

What does your family think of the education you’ve received at EARTH?

Leidyana never missed an opportunity to perform traditional dances from her home country Panama.

Leidyana never missed an opportunity to perform traditional dances from her home country Panama.

My family is very happy and they really like the University, for them it is incredible that I managed to get here. There is no better Christmas than this one because not only am I graduating, my whole family is graduating – they are so thankful for what I have learned here.

Tell us about your graduation project:
It is a vertical production system, a very new technology that is quite expensive.
What my partner and I set out to do was adapt this technology to lower prices, because if you understand the concept you don’t need to use extremely sophisticated materials – and we did it!