Glenda Maribel Alfaro SalmeronA 20-year-old Mt. Hood Community College student from El Salvador took the stage with former President Bill Clinton and Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert on Saturday night, April 6.

Glenda Maribel Alfaro Salmeron, a student in Mt. Hood’s SEED program, finished second in the Clinton Global Initiative University’s Commitments Challenge, held at Washington University in St. Louis. A surprise party was held in honor of Alfaro and her seven Mt. Hood classmates who attended the conference Monday, April 8.

“When I walked out and people were clapping, I felt very proud,” Alfaro said. “We didn’t win, but our effort was 100 percent, and it feels really good to be here still representing my family and country, MHCC and the SEED program. This experience is like a dream. I’m still so surprised and excited.”

The SEED program brings young leaders from rural areas of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean to the United States for two-year technical training programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and administered by Georgetown University.

For her project, Alfaro committed to replenishing nutrient-poor soil and stimulating agricultural production through composting in her hometown, Jardins de la Nueva, El Salvador, a village of 100 people.

This November, she will return to El Salvador to distribute composting bins to 12 families and teach them the basic procedures for composting at home.

As the only community college in the competition, MHCC went head-to-head against some of the most esteemed schools in America, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke and Columbia universities.

“I’m overwhelmed with pride for Glenda and our entire local, national and international community that has supported this effort,” said Nikki Gillis, SEED program coordinator. “What a dream for her and the other seven students from Mt. Hood who attended the conference!”

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