Highlights — 12 May 2018 — by Wil Maheia
Juan Bol, the Maya boy from San Jose, Toledo, who made it to the top

Juan is a humble youth from San Jose Village who was always determined to be the best at whatever he decided to do. After graduating from PG Methodist Primary School, Juan enrolled at Toledo Community College and commuted sixty miles daily to attend his classes.

Incidentally, his commute would be 20 miles less if a connecting shortcut bridge to the village would finally be repaired by the PUDP government. But despite this obstacle, Juan arose at 4 a.m. daily to attend class with his fellow students.

During the rainy season, he would arrive home well after dark because of his long travel time. With the lighting from kerosene lamps, he would study and complete his homework each night and be back on the grind a few hours later at 4 a.m.

After this four-year routine of studying and traveling to Toledo Community College, Juan graduated with excellent grades, B+ – A-. However, he was forced to take a hiatus from pursuing higher education due to lack of finances.

Juan then headed to the tourism island of Caye Caulker, where he initially found a job as a dishwasher. Because of his hard-working ethic, he was quickly promoted to duties in the dining room.

His charm and personality led him to bartending duties soon thereafter. After a couple of years of bartending, his love for the land brought him back to his village to help his family on their cacao farm.

While at the farm, he obtained a job in the cacao fields with the Toledo Cacao Growers Association. Here, he learned and mastered the skill of grafting, and Juan became one of the best grafters in the Toledo District.

Throughout this time, Juan was strongly encouraged by friends and family to become an expert in this fast-growing industry so that we in Toledo would be represented by one of our own during cacao talks and in discussions with the “experts”.

Fueled by his love and interest in sustainable measures for growing cacao, Juan applied for and won a scholarship to the prestigious EARTH University in Costa Rica. While at the university, his professors quickly recognized his talents and encouraged him to set his goals high and to achieve as much as he could.

Well, Juan did not need much to get motivated, as he eagerly took on the challenges and again, graduated with top honors in four years from the university.

His education led him to enter the Alltech competition, which gathers other young agricultural scientists from around this hemisphere to seek and identify the brightest minds in agricultural sciences.

Alltech is comprised of four regions, with one of the regions encompassing Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina. So as you can imagine, the competition is fierce. Juan devised a bio-control measure for nematocides, a pesticide against nematodes, which affects banana growth. The judges were so impressed with his visionary ideas that they named Juan as the best young scientist in this hemisphere.

Later this month, Juan will be traveling to Kentucky, USA, to meet the other three winners from the remaining three regions of the Alltech competition. There, his eco-concept will compete with these regional winners, and as you can imagine, the competition will also be fierce.

But whatever the results, Juan has already proven to be amongst the best, and the future is bright for this young, imaginative individual. We in Belize are proud of our “boy” from San Jose, Toledo District, for all his hard work and accomplishments.

Despite his humble beginnings, his inquisitive nature, thirst for knowledge, strong work ethic and persistent drive to make things better have led him to be selected as the best agricultural scientist in this region.

We congratulate, and look forward to Juan’s future achievements and success!

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