I was born and raised in Venezuela, a country that has been blessed with vast amounts of natural resources. I grew up on a sugarcane plantation, where nature was part of my daily life. My grandfather definitely fostered my sense of responsibility with nature, with our long horseback rides along the plantations and mountains, and quizzes on plant names. I am very lucky to say that as a kid I was able to climb sugar mountains, literally.
As I grew up, the lack of proper management of natural resources came to my attention. This motivated me to come to school to Virginia Tech and get an education with an environmental focus. I started as a wildlife conservation major and after putting what I was learning in context with a developing country, it seemed like there were issues that were far more pressing. As I got a better understanding of the different environmental concerns, I decided to take an approach with a bigger scope. This is how, after two years, I decided to transfer to environmental policy and planning. This major, I believe, will give me the tools to address some issues that have not yet been tackled in developing countries such as Venezuela. In these countries, unfortunately, a whole array of environmental issues are more critical than wildlife. However, I know this approach will have an umbrella effect on wildlife conservation.
My main interest is international sustainable development of rural communities. Having lived my whole life in a developing country with many struggles, I have seen rural communities being disrupted by unmeasured development and use of natural resources. I believe in the importance of supporting the growth of these communities by maintaining their essence while providing the tools and education to do so. If I want to achieve this I know I will have to learn how to be an effective leader by clearly communicating my vision and learning to work in teams. I am eager to see where all this takes me and the doors it will open. When I go back home, I want to help build it back up, but this time with an environmentally responsible foundation. I am certain the Leadership Institute will empower me to do so.