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Maria Eliette Gonzalez Perez

One of the biggest advantages of studying at UNESCO-IHE is the variety of cultures and countries that are represented here.

Latin America and the Caribbean
Nicaragua Latin America and the Caribbean

What made you decide to study this particular programme?
Like in many other third world countries, the sanitation in Nicaragua has huge potential to be developed. Over 50% of all wastewater yet remains untreated. And the lack of good sanitation causes major public health risks. Nicaragua is not on schedule to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's), focused on sanitation, by 2015. One of the main reasons for that is the lack of well-trained professionals in the field of water. Therefore, I'm glad to be part of the solution. In Nicaragua I saw many possibilities in terms of wastewater treatment and this specialization gives me the knowledge to work in that field.

Can you say something about studying in Delft/the Netherlands? Cultural and social experiences?
One of the biggest advantages of studying at UNESCO-IHE is the variety of cultures and countries that are represented here. In class and at the lunch table I'm surrounded by people from all continents. This experience definitely has a huge impact on my personal development as a human being. It also contributes to the quality of the specialization, because all these students share their own different experiences and practical examples. It's interesting to see that despite the variety of backgrounds, we all face similar problems. 

What kind of professional background do you need to succeed in this programme?
The most ideal professional background would be 'Chemical Engineering'. However, Civil Engineers and Environmental Engineers are suitable for this specialization as well. Eventually, the most important thing of all is determination. Since this specialization only takes 18 months instead of two years, it's a very intense programme. Therefore, a good mentality is the key to success. 

Why should new students/water professionals choose this programme? And do you have any advice for them?
Since it affects public health, sanitation is a top priority. It's all about preserving research and life. The Sanitary Engineering programme is an excellent specialization if you want to be part of the solution of the global sanitary problems. My advice for new students would be that they should be very open-minded when coming to the Netherlands. Open yourself up to new people and cultures, because it will give your stay an extra dimension. Another advice would be would be that you should be prepared to be studying at a high pace. 

What are you going to do once back home?
After graduating, I'll return to the consulting company where I worked prior to my studies. Thanks to my specialization, I'll be able to focus more on wastewater treatment in rural areas. Another advantage of completing this MSc is that I'll have the technical background to have a more important role in the decision making processes in terms of technical designs.

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