In the lead up to The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), Counterpart profiles Daniel Veras, a participant and benefactor of our work to address the affects of climate change in the Dominican Republic.
Daniel Veras didn’t grow up on the coast of the Dominican Republic, but he remembers the first time he saw the ocean while visiting his mom’s brother one summer. His uncle was a fisherman and invited young Veras to venture out in his boat. His imagination came to life while touring the mangroves and his love of science was born. He knew immediately that he wanted to become a marine biologist.
But such a career seemed unlikely in his country. Only one university offered science education and standardized aptitude tests administered by the government typically push students into trades or professions like medicine or law. A bright young man, Veras chose to become a lawyer. It was at the University of Santo Domingo that he discovered the science department and changed his major to biology. Even then, the program offered no hands-on experience and he saw no clear path to turn his passion into a profession.
While searching for an internship for his thesis, Veras was introduced to Counterpart’s work by way of a fellowship sponsored by the Frohring Foundation to work at Grupo Puntacana. “This was the first time I had a chance to get my hands wet,” he says, “Without this experience, I would have had little direction. The opportunities were not clear before.”
In fact, according to Veras, his fellowship and the experience with the program helped catapult him to win a Fulbright Scholarship and attain his master’s degree at the University of Florida. When asked by the Fulbright committee why he chose Florida, he immediately responded that he wanted to be close to home – and intended to return to the Dominican Republic after his time abroad.
Early in his career, Veras worked for 10 years at the National Aquarium. Now he works at the Punta Cana Group Foundation as an ornamental fish breeding coordinator. He’s giving back to Counterpart and his community by serving in the Near Peer Mentorship Program which places older, more experienced mentors with younger students. He also sees first-hand the impact of Counterpart’s Coastal Climate Resiliency Program’s efforts.
“I know that the Dominican Environmental Education Program (DEEP) has opened doors for many in this country,” Veras said. “Many of my colleagues in the field would have never been exposed to their career path without the experiences they had with DEEP.”
Indeed, along with our local partners in the Dominican Republic, entire generations are learning about their environment and becoming invested in creating a sustainable future for the island nation.
See also our profile on Andreina Valdez.
Read more about our work in the Dominican Republic: