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Ford Awards Winners Of The Jose M. Berrocal Scholarship For Environmental Studies


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, December November 8, 2005 – Ford Motor Company today announced the winners of the $10,000 José M. Berrocal Scholarship for Environmental Studies in Puerto Rico. The scholarship fund seeks to assist graduate students studying environmental disciplines in Puerto Rico.

Mrs. Jovanna García, Mrs. Nelis Del C. Soto, Mr. Rodney Rodríguez and Mrs. Yaritza Rivera were chosen among a number of island wide applicants for consideration in the scholarship program. Ram írez, Soto and Rodríguez, all of the University of Puerto Rico, were granted $2,500 respectively to advance their Master’s degree studies in the environmental field. Garc ía, from the Metropolitan University, was also granted $2,500.

William Clay Ford Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, created the scholarship fund to honor the memory of José M. Berrocal, a well-known public figure in Puerto Rico and a long-time personal friend of his.

The four selected students were recognized for their commitment to environmental and social causes.

Mrs. Jovanna Garc í a Soto is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management, with concentration on the Management and Conservation of Natural Resources, at the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico. She is part of a group of students that were recently chosen to participate in an internship in Brazil , as part of the United State Department of Education Project and the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education in collaboration with Puerto Rico ’s Metropolitan University and the Federal University of the Amazons in Manaus , Brazil . The project she will be working on will help her enrich her knowledge to fulfill her thesis in the years ahead, entitled: “ Demographic, Social and Economic Characteristic Analysis around the Forest Reserves; study of the case Bosque of Rio Abajo”.

Mrs. Nelis del C. Soto Ram í rez is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico , Mayagüez Campus. She is currently working on her Master’s thesis, a study of the prokaryotic halophilic communities present in the salt crystals of mangrove leaves in Cabo Rojo by using culture dependent and environmental genomics methods. She looks forward to becoming a professional educator with a PhD degree in the environmental field, teaching and investigating environmental issues that could impact the island’s ecosystems.

Mr. Rodney Rodr í guez Ramos is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico , Rio Piedras Campus. He is currently working on his thesis: “Butterflies of La Tula watershed, Gurabo PR: Morphologic Diversity and Spatial Heterogeneity”, and is looking forward in the near future to disseminate his research work both within the academic and non-academic communities. He worked as a volunteer for the Fish and Wildlife Service in various projects, including the capture and tagging of manatees.

Mrs. Yaritza Rivera Torres is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Marine Science at the University of Puerto Rico , Mayagüez Campus. She was recently involved, as the Vice President of the Marine Science Student Association, Department of Marine Sciences of the University, in research work encompassing coral reef ecology, water quality and microbiology of coastal waters. She is also working on her thesis related to human derived fecal microorganisms and their use as pollution indicators.

The José Berrocal Scholarship for Environmental Studies was established to encourage local students to pursue graduate studies in the environmental field and to contribute to the preservation of Puerto Rico ’s natural resources. The jury includes a representative from Ford Motor Company, a member of the Berrocal family and a close friend of José Berrocal.

Bill Ford announced the creation of the scholarships, dedicated to the memory of José Berrocal, when he visited the island in December of 2001 to present the first Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants in Puerto Rico . The scholarship program was endowed with a personal contribution from Bill Ford and a matching contribution from the Ford Motor Company Fund. Bill Ford met José Berrocal when they both studied at Princeton University . Since then, a life-long friendship bonded the two together until Berrocal’s untimely passing in October 2000. He was 43 years old.

The José Berrocal Scholarship for Environmental Studies supports students engaged in local, environmental-related master’s degree programs, which demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to the preservation of our natural resources. The selection process focuses on the applicant’s character and dedication to social causes.

Jose M. Berrocal was born in 1957, Berrocal led nothing short of an exemplary life. His studies in Economics, Public Affairs and Law took him to PrincetonUniversity, OxfordUniversity in England and YaleUniversity. He labored at the Second Court of Appeals in the Circuit of New York, served as La Fortaleza’s legal and status counselor and was appointed president of the Government Development Bank during former Governor Rafael Hernández Colón’s tenure. After leaving public service, he became managing director of Wolfensohn, now Deutsche Bank and worked closely with former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volker. He also served as consultant to a number of prominent business leaders in Puerto Rico and throughout the world.


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