Reginald Cean (’11, Haiti)
After graduating from EARTH in 2011, Reginald returned to his native Haiti to work for the nonprofit Zanmi Lasante/Zanmi Agrikol, the agricultural arm of Partners in Health. The organization was initiating plans to create an agricultural technical school and charged Reginald with developing the curriculum and directing the program. Inspired by EARTH’s model, he created a similar curriculum adapted to the Haitian reality. This was the first time a model like this had been tried in the country and Reginald had his share of critics.
“I remember how difficult it was to implement. I received many cruel criticisms that I didn’t know what I was doing nor the reality of the country. But when they saw the results, they understood why I was doing things differently.”
The first class of 23 students graduated in August of 2015 with all passing the country’s national exam.
Reginald is very busy. In addition to being the Director of the school’s Agricultural and Research Program, he is also the organization’s General Manager managing a million-dollar annual budget. He oversees three farms, totaling 55 hectares for the production of beans, peanuts and bananas, and a two-hectare vegetable plot that uses a solar drip-irrigation system. He supervises a staff of four agronomists, 16 extensionists, 80 personnel, and 13 teachers. With the University of Puerto Rico he worked on the production and commercialization of a special bean variety, and with the support of the University of Georgia implemented a soil and science lab for the school.
In addition, he has trained more than 500 families in agricultural practices and agribusiness, and supported 240 vulnerable families through the Family Assistance Program he supervised. He also started a commercial farm program to improve working conditions and safety, access to loans, salaries, and to protect the environment through the elimination of dangerous agrochemicals and the promotion of soil conservation initiatives. With the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation he is currently completing his MBA in Nonprofit Management at Brandeis University.
What keeps him going?
“It’s the opportunity to share with the school’s students and farmers what I have learned at EARTH. What I learned there transformed my life. It’s a way to give back what I have received.”
Reginald has a special focus on addressing two key challenges in Haiti through his school and work. The first is to promote values and ethics, which he sees as Haiti’s biggest need. The other is to promote sustainable development, preparing students to go back to their communities to share their knowledge and create family businesses.
“Knowledge is not enough to change the situation in Haiti. You need people with ethical values and a holistic focus on sustainable development.”
For Reginald, the scholarship to attend EARTH was the start of a new chapter in his life that opened the doors to his future as a professional. But more importantly, his four years at EARTH significantly shaped the person he is today.
“Normally, you go to college to get knowledge and ensure a career. EARTH, in addition to this knowledge, transforms and empowers you. It awakened in me my social conscience and helped me to discover my life’s purpose: to empower others.”