Current Students

Cohort 4

BeauName: Dale “Beau” Bryant
Home town: Poetry, Texas
Education: B.A., History and Philosophy, Texas A&M University
Certificate in Advanced International Affairs, Texas A&M University
Experience: Beau’s first international experience was freelancing as an independent English tutor in southern Morocco amongst the Tamazigh people after his freshman year of college. After that, he spent two consecutive summers in southern Kyushu, Japan, again as an English tutor. His first sub-Saharan African experience was working on school improvement projects in central Nigeria amongst the Fulani people. After completing his undergraduate education, Beau traveled briefly to Haiti to participate in after-care efforts following the 2010 earthquake, as well as throughout central Ethiopia conducting independent research on water infrastructure and improvement systems. Beau also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for two years with a college access and completion organization called College Forward, which serves low-income and first-generation students.
Interests: Monitoring and evaluation, capacity building and sustainable organizational development, geopolitics and political economy, political philosophy and ethics, human rights, land tenure rights, educational development, non-state actors, terrorism, diplomacy, military and security affairs


Samantha Davis

Name: Samantha Davis
Home town: Orlando, Florida
Education: B.A., International Studies with Spanish minor, University of North Florida
Experience: Samantha has studied abroad in over twelve countries around the world. In 2011, she participated in the Semester At Sea study abroad program and, in 2012, Samantha traveled to Ghana with Engineers Without Borders, where she and her team successfully implemented a water sanitation system for a local orphanage. Additionally in 2012, she completed a dual-internship in Washington, DC, as she worked for a non-profit organization that helped promote healthcare throughout Latin America while also working for the Washington, DC Veterans’ Affairs Clinic. Samantha is very involved in the sport of swimming. She teaches both children and adults how to swim and believes in the importance of water-safety worldwide.
Interests: Public health, gender empowerment and equality, healthcare accessibility, economic development, governance



Name: Antonieta Eguren Ibacache
Home town: Viña del Mar, Chile
Education: B.S. in Veterinary and Animal Sciencies, University of Chile. Professional degree of Veterinary, University of Chile.
Experience: Since her graduation in 2009 Antonieta has been working in the field of wildlife conservation research. She has served as field assistant, project coordinator and investigator in several projects with private and public entities in Chile, studying endangered species (mostly carnivores). In the last two years, her main focus has been the human dimension of wildlife conservation, and she has participated in the collection of data about the conflict between rural communities and wild carnivores in the south of Chile.
Interests: Wildlife conservation, community-based initiatives, natural resource management, women empowerment, interdisciplinary approaches to development, environmental education, international cooperation


avatar-hugeName: Jeremy Lambeth 
Home town: North Pole, Alaska 
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration – Management & Organizations, University of Alaska Fairbanks 
Experience: Previously employed at the Emerging Pathogens Institute, Jeremy’s career interests include improving knowledge management systems, researching urban sustainability, and mentoring youth entrepreneurship programs. As a 2010 NEURUS fellow, he worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and created e-learning methodologies and GIS tools at the International Centre for Science and High Technology. Recently, he assessed a distance education platform for a USAID/HAITI agricultural training center, established internet service for malaria/cholera researchers at a public health field laboratory, and designed an internal network for a contractor improving rural health infrastructure. Jeremy has conducted focus group surveys in Amman, Jordan for the Water and Livelihoods Initiative, participated in study tours of Indonesia, and returned from Port-au-Prince as an NSEP Boren Fellow. 
Interests: ICT4D, nonprofit organizational leadership, and international scholarly exchange in small island developing states


Name: Liz Poulsen
Home town: Lodi, NY
Education: B.A., International Studies, Dickinson College
Experience: Liz was involved in community service throughout her undergrad years, participating in and leading Alternative Spring Break trips to the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, and being active in Alpha Phi Omega, ESL classes, and a mentoring program for immigrant youth. She started traveling to and living in developing countries at the age of 15, first living in Cartago, Costa Rica, and later studying abroad in Ghana, where she volunteered at a local orphanage. After undergrad, Liz served in the Peace Corps for five months in Niger and three years in Guatemala, where she participated in the Youth Development program, working in middle schools to implement a Life Skills curriculum, conduct teacher trainings, build computer labs, and lead workshops with parents. She also co-coordinated a sexual and reproductive health program with a local NGO.
Interests: Monitoring and evaluation, sexual and reproductive health, climate change


AlexName: Alexandra Sprague
Home town: Framingham, Massachusetts
Education: B.S., Biology, B.A., Anthropology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Experience: In high school and college, Alex spent two summers volunteering on community-based conservation and development projects in the Peruvian rainforest. After that, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Mongolia for a semester, where she researched community-based conservation efforts with nomadic herders on the steppe. Just before graduating, Alex was able to pursue a side interest in disease ecology by participating in a summer internship with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. After graduating from college, Alex taught English in China for a semester, and then moved to Mongolia on a Fulbright research grant. As a Fulbright scholar, she designed and put into practice the first mobile gardening project in Mongolia: Nomadic Gardens.
Interests: Program evaluation, community-based conservation, problem solving and innovations in development, ecotourism, nomadic pastoralists, human ecology, k-12 science education


ChristaName: Christa Roberts
Home town: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Education: B.B.A. International Business and Marketing; minor in Spanish, University of Oklahoma
Experience: Having always been fascinated by Latin American culture, Christa completed an undergraduate study abroad program in Guadalajara, Mexico. After graduation, Christa worked for 3½ years as a consultant to individuals and small business owners where she designed and implemented financial strategies. In combining her educational and professional experiences, Christa became interested in the benefits of pairing business principles and social ventures. In 2011, Christa accepted an opportunity to join UF as an employee and pursue her graduate degree concurrently. Christa currently serves as the Business Manager for the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida.
Interests: Social entrepreneurship, small business development, family and development, community initiatives, conditional cash transfer programs, upcycling, and cultural heritage.


AmberName: Amber Zappia
Home town: Cooper City, Florida
Education: B.A. Geography and Anthropology, University of Florida
Experience: Amber’s interest in sustainable community development began in 2009 while studying abroad in Cuzco, Peru. She spent her weekends in rural areas constructing clean-burning stoves with local community members. In 2010, Amber led an alternative break initiative to Xela, Guatemala to continue to construct clean-burning stoves in el campo. Her love for the Spanish language and culture brought her to travel throughout Ecuador in 2011, working for various non-governmental organizations. From organic farming to tutoring, teen leadership development to Andean bear conservation; Ecuador confirmed her passion for sustainable development. After leading an expedition throughout Central America, Amber has been spending her past two summer working as a Natural History and Wilderness Instructor for native youth in Homer, Alaska.
Interests: Community empowerment, resource conservation, native song and dance, outdoor education and recreation



Cohort 3

MariaName: Maria F. Checa
Home town: Ecuador
Education: B.A. Biology, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador; M.S. Entomology and Netamology, University of Florida
Experience: Maria is currently pursuing a joint degree as a PhD student in ecology and conservation, and a Master student in the MDP program. She is a field biologist, and her former research has focused on analyzing effects of climate and habitat change on biodiversity. She has researched butterfly communities for several years in priority areas for conservation in Ecuador such as the Amazonia and coastal wet forests from the Chocó Region. Maria has been committed to education and outreach to enhance public appreciation for biodiversity, and promote scientific research and conservation. As a result, she has been actively involved in teaching at the Catholic University of Ecuador, mentoring Bachelor students and training local people. Moreover, Maria has published two books and several scientific and non-scientific writings. In order to face the multidisciplinary challenges of biodiversity conservation in her home country, Ecuador, Maria is pursuing the MDP program and researching about initiatives (such as butterfly farming) to reconcile biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Western Ecuador.

Interests: Biodiversity conservation, social entrepreneurship, community-based initiatives, ecotourism, women empowerment, capacity building, environmental education, climate change.


TarynName: Taryn Devereux
Home town: Dunedin, Florida
Education: B.A. in Religion, with minors in Spanish & Arabic, University of Florida
Experience: Taryn has a variety of non-profit and research experience in the United States and in Latin America. Some examples include Children Beyond Our Borders, a non-profit that works with internally displaced youth in Colombia; Project Place, a resource center for Boston’s homeless population; and most recently, as a Visiting Researcher for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which served as her MDP Field Practicum. She has experience writing grants, developing bilingual materials for educational programs, designing and implementing surveys, and social network analysis. Prior to the MDP program, Taryn worked as a project manager for a web publishing company, and was on the founding board for the Magic City Bicycle Collective, the first community-driven, bicycle repair education center in Miami.
Interests: Climate Change, Tropical Agriculture, Gender Studies, Natural Resource Management, Ethnography


HansName: Hans Goertz
Home town: Tucson, Arizona
Education: B.A., International Relations, Lewis & Clark College
Experience: Hans served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, where he taught English, art and IT classes to secondary students. He was also involved in an agricultural extension project, setting up several model permaculture gardens. After returning from the Peace Corps, Hans worked for the International Organization for Migration in Haiti – first in the post-earthquake capital of Port-au-Prince, and then in a regional office in Les Cayes. During his tenure in Haiti, he worked on a wide range of activities, including community infrastructure development, watershed management, shelter construction, cholera prevention and hurricane preparedness and relief.
Interests: Environmental education, natural resource management, sustainable agriculture


JessicaName: Jessica Jefferson
Home town: Forest, Virginia
Education: B.A., International Affairs with a concentration in Latin America Studies, University of Mary Washington
Experience: As an undergraduate, Jessica worked with microfinance projects in El Progreso, Honduras and on public policy advocacy for InterAction. She has volunteered on sanitation and educational programs in rural Guatemala as well as interning in the emergency room of a hospital in Quito, Ecuador. She has also done extensive research on internally displaced populations and the women’s movement in Latin America
Interests: Public health, Latin America, Water and Sanitation, Gender Empowerment


GentryName: Gentry E. Mander
Home town: Dade City, Florida
Education: B.A., International Studies and Spanish minor: Latin American Studies, Stetson University; J.D. Candidate: University of Florida
Experience: As an undergrad, Gentry worked for the Amazon Alliance in Washington, DC as an intern with research focused on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) initiatives made by the World Bank. During the summer of 2012, Gentry was a legal extern for the Secretariat for Environmental Matters of CAFTA-DR in Guatemala City. Also during the summer of 2012, Gentry studied rice production and watershed management practices while in Costa Rica.
Interests: Sustainable water use and conservation, Economic incentives for sustainable initiatives, tropical epidemiology.


LeandraName: Leandra Merz
Home town: West Palm Beach, Florida
Education: B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management with Minors in African Studies and International Studies, University of Florida
Experience: Leandra served as a Linking Income, Food and the Environment Volunteer for Peace Corps Zambia. As a zookeeper at the Palm Beach Zoo, she worked on daily husbandry, breeding programs and conservation education for a variety of different species. She is currently the founder and president of IIM International, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships for secondary students, support for government primary school staff and students, and environmental fieldtrips for science clubs in Central Zambia.
Interests: Wildlife conservation, Sustainable agriculture, Education, Microfinance and Income generation, Gender equality, and African languages, literature and culture


AntoniaName: Antonia Lliteras Espinosa
Home town: Artà, Spain
Education: B.A., Political Science and English with minors in Economics and International Studies, Luther College.
Experience: During her undergrad years, Antonia was very interested in international affairs, thus she took part in the Model United Nations club for three years. Furthermore, she volunteered in León, Nicaragua, where she worked with preschoolers in poor communities. After the Earthquake in Haiti, Antonia helped start a relief group on campus that raised over $17,000 and later participated in the writing, fundraising and implementation of a project for women in Haiti in cooperation with RARA bags. Antonia interned with the Fons Mallorquí de Solidaritat I Cooperació in Spain, where she helped supervise cooperation projects in Latin-America. She also had an internship with UNICEF Spain, where she looked at some development projects in Cuba and the Dominican Republic and helped write fundraising proposals for this organization, among other things.
Interests: Development of women and children, social entrepreneurship, literacy, sex trafficking, holistic development, women’s rights, rights of the child, development project management, international cooperation.


SebastianName: Sebastian Pazmino
Home town: Quito, Ecuador
Education: B.A. Landscape Architecture and Minor in Environmental Studies. University of Florida
Experience: Sebastian was born and raised in Ecuador, and his interest in design and community engagement began in an early age. Sebastian has led and volunteered in a number of different NGOs in Ecuador and elsewhere. He has implemented educational workshops for teachers, leaders and students in Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras and United States. During 2009 he worked as a Landscape Consultant for EARTH University in Costa Rica, creating a recreational park for a low-income community. Sebastian also studied Urban Design in Paris, France. His passion is to use Landscape Architecture as a vessel to unify communities and create jobs in Latin America.
Interests: Poverty alleviation, education, job empowerment, Rural and Urban Landscape Architecture.


Jose JuanName: Jose Juan Perez Orozco
Home town: San Pedro, San Marcos, Guatemala
Education: B.A., Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic, Maine; A.A., Farm Administration, Simon Bolivar United World College, Venezuela
Experience: Jose has a strong educational background in conventional and sustainable agriculture and has some independent research experience using ethnographic, statistical and GIS techniques. He has a strong interest on the potential of ecological agriculture as a sustainable development strategy, achieving the conservation of natural resources, food security, and community empowerment. Since late 2009, Jose has worked for Florida Organic Growers (FOG), a local non-profit, as a certification coordinator for FOG’s Certification program, and as an Education and Outreach project coordinator promoting organic and sustainable agriculture through workshops, webinars and other projects.


DanName: Daniel Stirling
Home town: Saint Louis, Missouri
Education: B.A., English Education and Literature/Philosophy. Southeast Missouri State University.
Experience: Dan has worked with organic framers throughout the world including family farm rice production in Central Japan, fruit and holistic herb crops in Western Thailand, and permaculture coffee farming in Costa Rica. Domestically, he worked with an eco-tourism firm that guided trips to Mount Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua and implemented a Sherpas scholarship fund. He has been involved recently with migrant worker education and labor relations in the wine-growing region of Northern California.
Interests: Permaculture, education, eco-tourism, randomly-controlled trials in aid resource, micro-finance, worker rights, and health possibilities of genetically modified crops


SethName: Seth Andrew Marsala-Bell
Home town: Shirley, New York and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Education: B.A., Anthropology with a duel minor in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship, University of Florida
Experience: In Costa Rica, Seth helped with a community development project on a self-sustained coffee farm created and managed by the local women. He has been very involved with community events. While an undergraduate, he was a member of Campus Diplomats and helped organize family weekend here at UF. He is a member of a March of Dimes Committee and currently works at Info Tech, Inc.
Interests: Governance, land management, sustainable practices, preservation of native civilizations, diminishing the wealth gap, education, ideology and symbolism, resource management, community development, micro-finance, and creating equality on all levels


RainaName: Raina Zantout
Home town: Arlington, Texas
Education: B.A., History with minors in Arabic and International Development, University of Florida
Experience: Raina acquired global awareness at a young age due to her multi-ethnic background. She has traveled to, lived, volunteered, and studied in the Caribbean, Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. During the summer of 2010, she volunteered for an NGO in India, creating an internship program to fuel the NGO’s self-sustainability. She speaks French and Haitian Creole fluently and is currently continuing her study of Modern Standard Arabic.
Interests: Education, children, agriculture, infrastructure, water, and health and hygiene