Rita Clark-Sandino '18 Awarded Stouffer Fellowship

Rita Clark-Sandino ’18 has received the Elsie M. Stouffer ’24 Fellowship, which provides funding for graduate study leading to a career in public service in Latin America.

With a biology major and technology studies Rita Clark-Sandinoconcentration, Clark-Sandino plans to pursue a master’s degree in one of two programs:

  • An M.A. in climate change and environmental negotiation at the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar or
  • A joint M.S./M.A. in water cooperation and diplomacy through the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, U.N. University for Peace, and Oregon State University.

“Whatever path she chooses, Rita will embrace the educational experience along with the practical skills and community engagement that is critical for these global-based programs,” said Ann Landstrom, assistant dean and director of global fellowships and awards. “Her passion for environmental science and development and for her home country of Nicaragua is clearly visible through the experiences she has pursued in her academic journey.”

At Grinnell, Clark-Sandino chaired the IOWATER organization, and was a service learning fellow for the Poweshiek County’s Soil and Water Conservation District, and a cabinet member of SACNAS: Latinos in the Sciences. She also served on the boards of the Center for Prairie Studies and the Donald and Winifred Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership.

She deepened her learning through an off-campus study with the Environmental Science Co-operative at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, and Research Experiences for Undergraduates National Science Foundation biogeochemical research fellowship at the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, MI. In addition, she completed a coastal monitoring and management internship with the Nicaraguan Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources in Chacocente, Nicaragua.

These experiences have motivated Clark-Sandino to pursue a career at the nexus of environmental science and policy with the goal of ensuring Nicaraguan development initiatives are equitable and sustainable.

She plans to move back to Central America immediately after graduating from Grinnell on May 21. Before starting graduate studies, she will serve as a coastal science outreach and communications specialist for The Azuero Earth Project and Pedasi Turtle Board, in Pedasi, Panama.

“I’m looking forward to exploring how communication technologies can improve environmental policy design and implementation,” said Clark-Sandino. “I am beyond excited to be working for and alongside communities at the frontlines of climate change.”

The fellowship is the result of a generous gift from Elsie May Stouffer ’24 (1902-1986) in 1982. The award is reserved for senior women who intend to pursue graduate study leading to a career in public service in Latin America. Recipients must be fluent in French, Spanish, or Portuguese when they apply in early spring of their senior year. Clark-Sandino is fluent in Spanish.

Nearly 30 Grinnell College alumni have received funding for graduate studies through the Stouffer Fellowship.

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