My name is Valerie Sanchez and I am a 3rd Year Political Science Major. Coming from Central American parents, I’ve always had an interest in the region, the cultures, and different ways of living. I have had the privilege of visiting family in Central America once. Although it was hard to experience such a challenging way of life, even at a young age it completely changed the way I saw the world. Some of my interests include justice, diversity, higher education, and sustainability. At UCI I was able to expand my education in these subject areas. Outside of the classroom, thanks to the help of SISL (which allowed me to be a participant) and the GSRC (which reached out to me with these unique opportunities) I’ve had the privilege of learning about sustainability. One particular subfield in sustainability that inspires to me act is environmental justice. Although I’m only beginning my journey, SISL and the CRP have already been teaching me how I can continue to make conscious individual choices that serve to preserve the planet and our resources for generations to come all the while creating a more just society. I’m excited and grateful that UCI has an interest in Costa Rica and not only plans to visit but to allow this opportunity to be a learing experience for us. I look forward to learning how to do research and to applying those skills in-country with an amazing team.