Learning from Women in STEM

Authored by:
Katie Fennessey

Katie Fennessey

Throughout our time in Monteverde, the WIS group has had many opportunities to learn from and work with various women in STEM! The girls visit their labs, farms, and businesses, interview them about their jobs, education, and experiences, and nurture goals and plans for their own careers one day. This has been especially true these last two days.

On Wednesday, our group travelled to Lluvias de Gloria, a farm owned and operated by a single mother, Doña Hermida Porras. She showed us her 7 hectare farm, where we observed numerous types of plants, crops, and animals. The girls loved trying different species of bananas, and even had the opportunity to try dried bananas that were sun-dried in Doña Hermida's green house. She explained to the girls how she uses local spring water to limit her water usage and carbon footprint. 

Learning about the new plants from Doña Hermida

After the tour of this incredible farm, Doña Hermida welcomed us into her home to try a homemade Costa Rican dish. We also had the opportunity to try coffee that was grown, roasted, and processed directly on Lluvias de Gloria! The food and coffee were delicious, but listening to all Doña Hermida has accomplished and all the sustainable practices she employs on her farm were truly incredible. 

Enjoying fresh coffee grown on the farm!

Today, the group had three (virtual) guest lectures - all impressive and prominent Women in STEM! Our first guest speaker was Sofia Pastor. She is a truly passionate woman who became inspired at a young age to preserve the earth and all its natural environments. Currently, she works as a Community Conservation Officer, trying to help communities build connections between their lives and the surrounding wildlife. 

The class listens to Sofia Pastor

Fairy Shabir, one of our WIS students, said "Sofia is a very head-driven and determinant woman in STEM that inspired me to not give up and always go towards my goal no matter what. She used her challenges as a way to build her character and help others understand themselves."

Our second speaker was Alexandra Paniagua. She is an incredible woman who is currently working on a project to build carbon-neutral boats, while also working to organize reforestation efforts here in Costa Rica.

Alyssa learning more from Ms. Paniagua

Sadie Curtin-Adelman felt truly inspired by Ms. Paniagua and said "Her work to not only construct a carbon-neutral boat, but also to restore bio corridors is very impressive. These are not small projects, they require a lot of work, and the fact that it was early in her career when she began working on the carbon-neutral vehicle is also impressive. I also very much admire all her work in educating the communities of young people and the public to continue this work in their own careers."

And our third speaker was Alejandra Duque, and a friend of one of our professors! She is currently working in Germany on a research project that aims to understand a specific bacterial infection affecting plants. 

Ania discussing careers with Ms. Duque

Audrey Trivedi loved learning about Alejandra's experiences and said "Alejandra Dusque’s story resonated with me because she incorporated her love for microbiology, the earth, and neurology into her research. She is inspiring to me and many other young women who are interested in medicine and biology while also hoping to travel throughout their career!"

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