UTIA faculty: Interested in advising an intern from Zamorano next year? Contact Dave Ader in International Programs for more details.
The 15-week internship experience at UTIA is soon coming to a close for three undergraduates from Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (Escuela Agrícola Panamericana El Zamorano), a leading agricultural university located in Honduras. Juan Carlos Ramos Tanchez, Jorge Eduardo Loaisiga Romero, and Mario Ernesto Bermudez Gonzalez are the first cohort of Zamorano interns hosted by UTIA.
For Zamorano University, sending students off for a 15-week, hands-on experience the last year of their B.S. programs is not a new concept. In fact, the opportunity for their students to engage with top professionals in academia or private industry, often outside the students’ home country, prepare Zamorano graduates to be leaders in their respective fields in Latin America and the world. UTIA faculty, Drs. Phillip Myer (Animal Science), Dave Ader (International Programs), and Mark Morgan (Food Science) saw hosting interns as an opportunity for collaboration and a way to increase the international connections of UTIA. To get the planning started, they first pursued the 2016 Faculty Team Seed Grants offered by UTIA International Programs, through a joint initiative with AgResearch, UT Extension, CVM and CASNR.
This activity contributes towards short- and long-term internationalization efforts in UTIA by connecting with top institutions in Central America and building relations in the region. Dr. Ader highlighted the benefits for faculty and the Institute, particularly as a way to recruit highly qualified graduate students from Central America. Once these students return to their home countries, their experience in the US, as well as their high quality education from Zamorano, qualify them for opportunities in leadership positions. Whether with the private sector, or with ministries of government, the interns connection with UT remains. “It’s a benefit to our students too,” Dr. Ader added, “UT students are engaged with the world right here on campus,” referring to their interaction with the interns and having opportunities to ask questions about language, culture, and share experiences.
Now 13 weeks into their international internship, the students reflected on their experience thus far. Jorge Eduardo Loaisiga Romero, an agronomic engineering student from Nicaragua, noted the benefit of working in advanced areas with new technologies and being exposed to new livestock breeds and different management approaches during his internship under Dr. Myer. When asked about his best experience at UTIA, he replied, “To be part of the United States education system… I experienced what it is like to be involved in research, how the culture of the educational system is here. Not only that, but the lifestyle of students here. That was my best experience.”
Working with UTIA International Programs, Juan Carlos Ramos Tanchez, a student of environment and development engineering from Guatemala, helped develop a new CASNR study abroad course in sustainable agriculture to Guatemala during his internship. His future plans include either graduate school or a position related to sustainable agriculture in his home country. Working to build connections with international institutions and organizations and compiling course material, he expressed his satisfaction in helping “your country see my country” and noted the value of being able to compare TN agriculture with other agriculture systems.
Mario Ernesto Bermudez Gonzalez, a student of agro-industrial engineering (food science and technology in the US, respectively) from Nicaragua, knew the “expectations were high” before coming to the Institute and was looking forward to the challenge of being in the first cohort of Zamorano students to join UTIA for their internships. Now at the end of his internship period, Mario valued being “treated as a graduate student” and can now confirm his desire to attend graduate school in either the US or Europe.
As these three students move to their next steps, UTIA thanks them for their dedication to our programs and looks forward to maintaining contact in the future. As UTIA prepares for the next round of top Zamorano students, we asked them what advice they would give future cohorts… Their response? Prepare for the cold, learn how to cook, ask for help when needed, engage with the community on and off campus, AND make the most of your internship experience… time goes by quickly!