Sofía Micaela Solís Coello
Class of 2011-2014
City/Town: Santa Cruz
Micaela grew up on Santa Cruz, one of the Galápagos islands—which she describes as “magical.” She is the middle child of three. Her mother is a homemaker, and her father is a farmer and tour guide. The family has two-and half acres of land. Three years ago, everyone in her family worked together on that land to begin growing tomatoes, cassavas, beans, oranges, pineapples and other fruits for consumption; since so much of the food consumed on the island is shipped from continental Ecuador, having their own crops offers the family both ecological and economic benefits. In addition, her parents have begun growing papayas and other fruits near the swimming hole on their property to attract turtles, which interest tourists. Her older sister also works in tourism, while her younger brother is in high school. In her free time, she loves spending time with friends and family and meeting new people. She speaks Spanish and basic English.
Micaela graduated from an International Baccalaureate high school in 2010 with an excellent academic record. As a high school student, she volunteered with other students in the “Santa Cruz Plants Trees for a Better Tomorrow” campaign. She also participated in workshops on leadership and human ecology, and the Ministry of Education’s “Fruit Eaten, Seed Sown” lectures about reforestation. In her free time, she took extracurricular English classes, scuba dove, and trained for and participated in a triathlon. When a friend told her EARTH, its focus on combining environmental and social sustainability with entrepreneurship in an international environment truly resonated with her. When she received a scholarship from the EARTH alumni association of Ecuador, she was surprised and overjoyed. “It was a great honor to receive this scholarship,” she reflects. “I was starting to see a door open to my dream coming true.” Now at the University, she says, “I’m striving for my dreams, my family and the people who brought me to EARTH.” Micaela is a first-generation college student.
While in high school, Micaela gained experience creating recycled paper with dried fibers and comparing the island beaches’ biodiversity to emphasize the need to protect their ecosystems. She chose to attend the University “to learn more about agronomy, the environment and conservation to be able to apply my knowledge to sustainable development projects, to the well-being of the community and to the care of our resources here in the Galápagos.”
Now at EARTH, she appreciates the opportunity to “learn every day.” She expresses gratitude for the cultural richness of the international community, the quality of learning resources such as the library, and professors’ willingness to facilitate her learning process and make time to speak with her. She also enjoys the collaborative nature of group projects. For her entrepreneurial project, she worked with a company of five other students to create and market “Salsa Brava,” a hot sauce. Such experiences have increased her confidence, enhanced her communications skills and deepened her understanding of others. “Being here has really opened doors for me,” she shares. For her third-year internship, she hopes to find an opportunity in Brazil, Japan or Israel.
Micaela sees her island as a place greatly in need of ecological care, and she speaks persuasively about balancing humanity’s needs with those of wildlife. She feels encouraged to see the environmental consciousness of her community has grown around issues such as recycling, and she wants to help encourage citizens to live even more sustainably. She also dreams relating agriculture and eco-tourism through a family business. As an agro-leader, she would also like to advocate more for the rural sector; although some people on the islands have benefited from the growth of eco-tourism, not enough have, due to a lack of capital. Thanks to her training at EARTH, she feels that when she graduates, she will be “equipped with the tools” to realize her vision.