Donovan Leiva lives in Orange Walk Town, Belize and is the eldest of four children. From a very young age he was always interested in science. Donovan always wanted to know why things are the way they are and how they work. Growing up in a single parent household, Donovan was molded into becoming the determined, hardworking and humble individual he is today- topping classes at the Primary and Secondary education levels and being involved in both athletic and academic competitions. Donovan found tertiary level education to be an exciting part of his life as he met new people and embarked on exciting adventures that allowed him to grow in a personal and professional manner. While making connections with professionals in his society, Donovan decided that he wanted to do something to benefit his Country.
Donovan became involved with many volunteer works for NGO’s that had partnerships with the University of Belize and was even a part of the Student Government Association as the Financial Controller for the year 2014-2015. During his final semester at the University of Belize he went for an interview held by lecturers in the Science Department to shadow Graduate students from the University of Notre Dame. Donovan was selected to shadow the station manager at BVEC at the time, Mr. Sanjeev Majabir. After volunteering with BVEC for three months, he was hired to be a part of the staff by Dr. John Grieco and Dr. Nicole Achee. Together with co-worker, Marla Magaña, they have set forth on a journey to become Research Assistants in projects that would propel both the development of their Country and the entire region in the field of Vector Ecology.
Marla Magaña is a graduate from the University of Belize and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology. In the summer of 2015, Marla was selected from a group of University of Belize students, along with Donovan Leiva, to shadow Notre Dame students with their Capstone projects. As a result of their hard work and dedication, Marla and Donovan were hired to be part of Dr. Achee and Dr. Grieco’s research team at the Belize Vector and Ecology Center (BVEC) in Orange Walk Town, Belize C.A.
Marla’s early works have been in the area of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) as an active fellow in GoBelize – a leading non-governmental organization in Belize focusing in leadership in SRH. Her passion for the environment has led Marla to lead various Environmental Awareness Campaigns to educate about the importance of preserving the environment. Marla has always found creative and factual ways of linking Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights with environmental issues making her a youth champion in advocating for sustainable development. Currently, she is now trying to educate people about the link between our Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and the prevalence of vector-borne diseases as both impact our environment. Currently, Marla is hoping that BVEC and the University of Notre Dame will establish a more solid partnership with GoBelize in research, training and outreach endeavors that will target public health concerns in marginalized populations in Belize.