Nicol Chinchilla Cordero ’16 impacts every community she comes in contact with, including those on Earlham’s campus, in her Costa Rica hometown, in Richmond and in Guatemala.
The environmental studies and business and nonprofit management double major is an impressive student. Within her first year, she completed a Ford/Knight research project, which are normally tackled by upperclassmen. The project, which focused on water issues in Guatemala, concerned a Central American country, ecosystems and sustainability, all of which are important to Chinchilla.
On campus, she is implementing the “Eco-reps program that works to model sustainable living practices in college residences in order to promote sustainable living behaviors.” The program originated during a summer internship at Earlham. Also as part of the internship, Chinchilla made a bike map of Richmond and a map of Earlham’s back campus. She also is involved in Earlham’s Energy Wars, a friendly competition between dorms to reduce water and energy usage. In addition, she helped plan TEDx Talk Richmond.
She also hopes to establish an Earlham chapter of the nonprofit Aynah, which focuses on community ownership and cooperatives to create a “platform for projects related to sustainable economic development.”
As a full-time student at Earlham, Chinchilla continues to help with her family’s organic farm in Costa Rica by screening applications from people who want to stay on the farm while visiting the country. The farm has become an ecotourism draw by allowing city dwellers to learn organic farming, Spanish and sustainability.
In addition, Chinchilla is creating a Community Center with a Costa Rican Women’s Organization, to which she belongs. In order to accomplish this goal, Chinchilla has raised $12,000 of the $22,000 needed by summer 2014. This initial money is currently funding the building’s foundation. Chinchilla envisions the Community Center as a place where kids play games, sports and do homework. The most important thing, however, is that she wants the young people in her village and surrounding villages to realize that “they don’t need a title to make a change.”
Aside from projects in Costa Rica, Chinchilla brings amazing energy and motivation to the Earlham community into which she has so smoothly incorporated herself.
Chinchilla laughs when she pulls out her calendar. It is neatly organized with Post-It notes and stickers to remind her of important events and assignments.
“I love goals and crossing things off of my to-do-list,” she explains. “I have long-term goals, but I am very present.” This mindset is evident when she talks about how she loves to be busy. In addition to her schoolwork, participation in committees, and her work back home, Chinchilla makes a point of attending campus events.
“As a small community, we should support each other’s groups,” she says.