Fernando Maldonado

Fernando Maldonado was born in Guatemala to a Puerto Rican mother and a Guatemalan father. This upbringing formed a distinct way of life for him. Living in between these two different cultures diversified his eco-social lens. Guatemala sensitized him about social injustice, food security, and multicultural and biological diversity. Puerto Rico taught him about strong family values, a connection to the ocean and plants, connection to food and empowered him to pursue what he wanted in life. 

This background has taken Fernando on a life long journey that started with seven years of working and studying in Florida. During this time, he attended the two following universities: Florida Tech University and Indian River State College. While obtaining his degree's, he worked for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Ocean Reefs & Aquariums. Toward the end of this journey, Fernando attended a short course on aquaponics at the University of Virgin Islands. Later on, in Guatemala City, he built an aquaponics demonstration system. His interest in plants grew, and after a life changing trip to Australia, he was given the opportunity to manage a community garden project for the municipality of Guatemala City. In 2013, he took a 1-year contract to manage Punta Mona Center for Sustainability and Education. Fernando recently completed this 1-year commitment and is now doing his Master's degree with Gaia University. He is also actively involved in project SERES, a NGO, doing environmental youth leardership work in Central America. 

I first learned about permaculture in Punta Mona. Since then I started to research more about permaculture and I remember coming across the Gaia University website. I thought it was a very interesting way of learning. Four years later, I was back to Punta Mona, this time as a worker. Here I met a friend of mine who was undertaking the Master's degree at Gaia University and was enjoying it very much. I went back to the website and decided to enroll. So far, I have enjoy the program very much. I have been able to look back on my career and observe patterns and key experiences. Now I feel more empowered to design my future life career path and to document it. I appreciate that I can move around different countries while pursuing my MSc.