First graduating class of scholarship recipients

AUTHOR Doris Welsh


PHOTO: Angela Vera and Guisell Zapata, and in Tourism Administration were: Tito Franco, Mariuxi Lopez, Modesto Vera, Jose Villagomez and Marco Zavala, and in Business Administration, Yadira Torres. In the photo with the students are Santiago Dunn, President of Ecoventura and Eliecer Cruz, Galapagos Ecoregional Director for WWF.

In 2006, Ecoventura, together with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), established the Galapagos Marine Biodiversity Fund (GMBF) with the objective to strengthen the local communities’ ability to manage natural resources through environmental education and marine conservation. In May 2007, the fund provided scholarships for local students to attend a two year technical career program with the objective to form community leaders to help manage conservation and be prepared to take a stand against illegal fishing that threatens the Islands ecosystem. Students were carefully selected, many of them were from children of fishermen, living in San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Isabela Islands.

The University contributed 50% of the tuition and therefore GMBF met its goal to give 11 full scholarships over a course of two years. During the first year, the advancement of each student was noted through permanent communication with an academic supervisor. For many of the students, it was a rigorous journey to adapt to a new system and live away from their families. In spite of the obstacles, the students who remained maintained an average GPA of 3.4 and were highly motivated to learn from their professors.