Learning to Become Leaders

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: October 2nd, 2023

One of the things that distinguishes our University is that our Academic Program focuses on learning by doing, and on transforming students into professionals with vast technical knowledge and human skills that allow them to be efficient, ethical, and responsible leaders. Professional Experience is one of the courses included in the curriculum during the students’ last year of studies.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, all of our students head out to work on the different farms and in the different research areas and communities surrounding our Guácimo Campus. In this setting, the fourth-year students gain professional experience by leading the activities in the 18 locations, where the first and second-year students rotate for their Work Experience course.

Fernanda Freitas Oliveira (’23, Brazil), Mastercard Foundation Scholar, says that a year ago, before leaving the Guácimo Campus for her internship, she applied for three Professional Experience positions. Students apply to the location they are most interested in, submit resumes, and interview in front of the faculty as if they were applying for a job. This process gives them real insight into the world of work that awaits them.

Fernanda applied to the Fertigation project and got the position she wanted. “Fertigation is fascinating to me because I love to study soil correction, irrigation management, crop nutrition, and everything in soil protection management. I am considering market and job opportunities around this,” she says. Fernanda adds that as a leader, her job is not only to delegate tasks but also to have the tools to teach, guide, and captivate. She knows she has an opportunity to sow a seed of interest, and she has a constant thirst for knowledge and a great desire to do things well despite the heat and humidity almost always abundant in the fields.

“At EARTH, we have excellent examples of leaders in our teachers, and are inspired to be like them. We also have the advantage in that the first and second-year students always have a good attitude, facilitating our task as leaders. What I like most about the experience is being together and learning about the history of each student. I learn my students’ names because I believe a good leader must know their people,” Fernanda explains.

In the Fertigation project, Fernanda works with Michael García Santos (‘23, Honduras) and Jan Carlos Sáenz (‘23, Nicaragua). She also has the guidance and direction of the Academic Unit and the faculty. While working with the students, Fernanda and her colleagues collaborate to make nutritional plans for crops like papaya, corn, and watermelon, give introductory talks on irrigation management, measure and make decisions on fertilizer use, and do research and conduct experiments.

Experiential learning is a unique and essential tool for students like Fernanda, who learn at EARTH how to be great leaders of the future.