Jhulian Gutierrez examines a desert specimen

A Passionate Learner With Big Dreams

Jhulian is pursuing his goals of helping others and the environment through the Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Learning Innovation program.

Originally from Miami, Florida, Jhulian Gutierrez traded one tropical climate for another two years ago when he moved to Oahu, Hawaiʻi. He also transferred from Broward College in Florida to the University of Arizona Online.

Jhulian initially enrolled as an environmental science major but realized he was looking for something different. He found the Bachelor of Science in Leadership and Learning Innovation (LLI) program and was particularly interested in the Community Education emphasis. "It was everything I was looking for in an academic and career path," says Jhulian. 

Jhulian says that one of his favorite experiences in the program so far has been his Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies internship class with Dr. Crystal Soltero. Jhulian highlights the mentorship he's received and the opportunities for future networking and professional development with the guidance of Dr. Soltero. 

And he’s already started to apply what he’s learned. Jhulian is earning credits while he works as a program coordinator in the Environmental Education Department at Kupu, an environmental education nonprofit in Hawaiʻi.

Jhulian's primary duty at Kupu is to manage and support a group of interns known as Environmental Education Leaders. These interns bring work-based learning opportunities, such as community partner site field trips, guest speaker events, place-based curriculum, and more, to students in middle and high schools throughout the state. 

Jhulian said that the support from Arizona Online's staff and advisors has played a pivotal role in refining his leadership abilities. "It has contributed to my overall growth, enabling me to be a more effective manager," says Jhulian. 

Jhulian explains that the Planning Community Events and Recreation Programs class he took at the University of Arizona Online gave him valuable tools he could use to help plan the Environmental Education Department's first educational/recreational intern retreat last fall.

Jhulian and other students standing on the beach in Oahu, Hawaiʻi

Jhulian and his Environmental Education Leaders

When wildfires blazed across Maui in August of 2023, with the assistance of Kupu staff and partner schools, Jhulian's interns managed, arranged, and gathered supplies from their students and broader communities to donate to different Maui relief centers. 

The Environmental Education Department and Kupu provided support on a systematic level and plan to expand their programming and place some interns on Maui to support the island's students, educators, and communities for years to come. 

Jhulian says that even though he's not from Hawaiʻi, it's now home, and it was important to him to support the community that has been so welcoming and supportive. 

Jhulian at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

"Hawaii is a beautiful state filled with people who love their ʻāina (land) and community dearly, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity and means to help in a time of great need," explains Jhulian.

After graduating with his BS, he plans to pursue a master's in zoology or marine science and hopefully continue to grow his career in the nonprofit world. "Preferably in a role where I can educate folks about conservation and animals. That would be the dream!" Jhulian said.