Section Home

Earth Science Student Has Transformative Study Abroad In Spain

Mayra Guaman is a York College freshman literally on the move. The Earth Science major recently spent a week on the study abroad of a lifetime in Majorca, Spain.

"It all started with a class in environmental science," said Guaman of her summer 2018 academic sojourn. "I met a professor named [Dr.] Ratan Dhar who saw a lot of potential and dedication in me. After taking classes with him and spending time in his lab, he got to know me more and how hard-working I am. So one day he proposed that I apply for study abroad in Palma de Mallorca, Spain."

Dr. Dhar concurred. "I selected her because I had her in two classes and she's very thorough," he explained. "She wants to learn. She writes very well; she's articulate and quantitative and spontaneous."

But a career in the sciences was not what Guaman Ecuadorian mother had in mind for her daughter. Like so many immigrant parents, she wanted her daughter to choose a more familiar career path.

"My mom wanted me to choose business or law," she said. "But I'm speaking with new people about environmental issues, solutions and plans to take care of marine life confirmed my passion for environmental health science."

Accordingly, she applied for a Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) scholarship and interviewed with Dr. Neil Phillip at Bronx Community College. Dr. Phillip and Dr. Dhar have had a fruitful research partnership over the years and Guaman has now become a beneficiary of their scholarly alliance.

"It was so exciting," Guaman reflected upon her return to York. "Dr. Dhar and I saw this opportunity to study abroad as something that will open my eyes and motivate me to continue the long path towards my career. At the same time, I will use all the knowledge; and apply the things that I learned during the study abroad [trip]. There aren't' enough words to describe the wonderful experience I had in Palma de Mallorca and the opportunities that opened."

The observant young scholar also noted that there are two different kinds of people who explore the island: "those who explore with money and those who explore with heart."

"Those who explore the island with money are not compassionate about the conservation of the island," she noted. "Those people spend resources like there is no tomorrow, not knowing the negative environmental impact that they have in nature."

But all environmentalists are not created equal. According to Guaman, she met people who are professionals in the same field she's now pursuing as a student and they are not practicing what they preach.

"They are careless about the environmental problems, she said. "Those people with a lot of knowledge in environmental science disappointed me because [they know] the issues of the island, they were wasting resources."

Guaman knows better and will do better, according to Dhar. "She has huge potential to become a true environmental scientist," said her confident mentor.