Dominican student graduates from LSU, hopes to improve nutrition in home country

(08/09/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – Growing up in the capital city of the Dominican Republic, Glorianni Estrella Espinosa never expected she’d one day graduate from LSU with a master’s degree in agricultural economics. But after doing just that on Aug. 5, she’s now hoping to use her skills to make life better in her home country, where many people struggle with poverty and unhealthy lifestyles.

Estrella decided to attend LSU after learning about a scholarship program funded by the Ministerio de Educación Superior, Ciencia y Tecnología (MESCyT), the agency that oversees higher education in the Dominican Republic. The program is a cooperative effort of MESCyT, the LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture.

Estrella is one of three students participating in the program and the first of the group to graduate.

Now back home in Santo Domingo, Estrella is working at a call center while looking for a job in her field. She wants to work in marketing to promote healthy food products and is considering pursuing a doctorate after she gets a few years of experience in the industry.

Estrella earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, a university in Santo Domingo. As an undergraduate, Estrella wasn’t sure what kind of career she wanted, but she eventually developed interests in marketing and nutrition. She said it’s important to encourage people to make healthier choices.

“Our culture is not very healthy in terms of food,” she said. “Dominicans tend to eat with a lot of fat and carbs, basically little protein, no vegetables. That is something I would like to help improve in the country.”

The Dominican Republic grows most its food because imported products are expensive, Estrella said. Sugarcane is the most important crop in the country, although farmers also produce rice, cocoa, coffee and poultry.

Aside from the two major cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago, which is known as the “second capital,” the Dominican Republic is rural and poor. Poverty influences eating habits, and “most people are not educated in terms of nutrition,” Estrella said.

That is beginning to change, however, as more people become conscious of their health decisions – a cultural shift Estrella wants to be part of. More gyms are opening, and new, healthier food products are gaining popularity, she said.

At LSU, Estrella studied under AgCenter economist Lynn Kennedy and wrote her master’s thesis on the trade of cocoa beans between the Dominican Republic and the U.S. She said coming to LSU benefitted her in many ways.

“I have met many people from many places in the world, so that has broadened my horizons in terms of cultures and different behaviors,” Estrella said. “It has made me more independent, more self confident and more resilient.”

Estrella encouraged students to consider educational opportunities in other countries.

“International students should definitely try to go abroad and get their education somewhere else to get out of their comfort zone because it definitely changes your perspective of everything,” she said.

espinoza.jpg thumbnail

Glorianni Estrella Espinosa, who recently graduated from LSU with a master’s degree in agricultural economics, poses with her diploma on Aug. 5, 2016. She is from the Dominican Republic and was able to study at LSU through a scholarship program funded by that country’s higher education ministry. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

8/9/2016 2:38:19 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture