Costa Rica Program


Faculty and Staff

Jessica Clark (Faculty)

(M.S., English Literature, University of Costa Rica) Professor of the Joining the Conversation: The Argumentative Essay Seminar in fall and Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship and Introduction to Strategic Communication in spring. Jessica is a published science fiction writer. She has worked as an advertiser, script writer and speech writer in the Costa Rican Embassy in Washington D.C.

Natasha Gordon-Chipembere (Adjunct Faculty)

(PhD, English with a focus on Africa/African Diasporic Literature and History, University of South Africa, Pretoria South Africa; M.A. African Literature University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; M.ED in Secondary and Tertiary Education/Literature, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York) Professor of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Course and one section of the Joining the Conversation: The Argumentative Essay Seminar in fall and Exploring the Question: Writing the Research Paper in spring. Natasha was an Associate Professor of English at Medgar Evers College, CUNY for 12 years. Born in New York of Central American/Caribbean parentage, Natasha lives in Costa Rica as a full time writer and independent scholar. Her scholarly research focuses on slavery and its impact. She is currently completing a historical fiction novel on 17th century slavery in Costa Rica which includes a revisioning of the Black Madonna narrative. She writes a monthly column Musings from an Afro Costa Rican for the Tico Times:


Sarah Moran (Assistant Dean & Costa Rica Center Director)

(M.S. in Adult Continuing Education from Northern Illinois University, BA in Social Sciences and Secondary Teaching Certificate from University of Michigan). Apart from her administrative responsibilities as Costa Rica Center Director and Assistant Dean of LIU Global, Sarah teaches the Foundation Year Orientation Seminar and is the academic advisor for first year students where she focuses on student success, intercultural communication and competence, experiential education and global community engagement. She has worked with the Costa Rica Center of LIU Global for over 12 years. Prior to that, she worked for 8 years as Training Director for Peace Corps Costa Rica after several years of experience as a technical and cross-cultural trainer. In Chicago, she worked in adult education with institutions of higher education (Chicago City Colleges and Northeastern Illinois University) as well as with community organizations and the union representing the adult educators of City Colleges. Originally from Evanston, IL, she has lived and worked in Costa Rica for over 25 years.

Uzma Rashid (Adjunct Faculty)

(PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture as Fulbright Scholar at University of Maryland; MA in Applied Linguistics, MA in English Literature, and BA in English at University of Karachi, Pakistan). Dr. Rashid teaches the Global Studies: Governance course with the first year students at the Costa Rica Center. She also currently serves as Assistant Professor, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, and Academic Coordinator for the Gender and Peacebuilding program at the United Nations Mandated University for Peace, Costa Rica. Prior to joining UPeace, she worked as Chair at the Department of Sociology, and Associate Dean for Research of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan. Dr. Rashid has done her PhD as a Fulbright scholar from the interdisciplinary Language, Literacy, and Culture program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA, and has extensive teaching, training, and research experience in a variety of contexts. Her academic work and research interests have consistently been interdisciplinary in nature, with the aim of working towards equity and justice by furthering an understanding of power relations in the intersections of gender, sexuality, religion, race, ethnicity, caste, ability, and class at the multiple levels on which they operate. She is also a certified trainer for conducting empowerment self-defense trainings with a holistic view of tackling violence, especially sexual and gender based violence. 

Maria Sandberg (Student Services Coordinator & Global Health and Safety Coordinator)

(M.A in Human Rights and Peace Education from La Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, B.A in International Relations from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica) Maria was born and raised in Sweden. Some of her passions includes photography and mediating.


Olivia Sylvester (Adjunct Faculty)

(Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Canada; Certificate in Higher Education Teaching Program, University of Manitoba; M.S. Honours in Biological Sciences, Universidad de Costa Rica). Professor of the Foundations of Global Studies: Ecology and Environment and and Engaging the Field:  Introduction to Research Methods. Olivia is Canadian and has been teaching and doing research in Canada and Costa Rica for 15 years; her research and teaching programme includes: food security, climate change, resilience, sustainable agriculture, gender, and Indigenous people's rights to food, land and resources. Specifically, her emphasis is on grass-roots projects that address food security and climate change for youth and women using feminist and Indigenous methodologies. Olivia is an assistant professor at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in the department of Environment, Development, and Peace. She is also a member of the following organizations: The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Society of Ethnobiology, the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project, and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. Being active within these networks allows her to work at the interface of policy and practice.

Oscar Ugalde (Administrative Coordinator & LIU Global Finance Officer)

(PhD in Economics and Business from Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología [ULACIT] in Costa Rica, his MA in Development Economics from the Institute of Social Studies Netherlands, and his MBA in International Trade from ULACIT, Costa Rica.) Oscar is also a part-time professor of Economics, Finance and Development at Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT) and at the National University at the bachelor’s and master’s programs. He recently joined the Latin American Network of Researchers on Development Studies as well as the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics where he contributes doing research.

Maria Jose Zuniga (Social Media and Communications Coordinator)

(Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica). Mari is a sales, marketing and communication enthusiast who became a content creator trained at Experian Marketing Services. She is currently studying Japanese and is passionate about traveling and photography.


SPANISH PROGRAM (9 weeks of each semester)

The Spanish Program is led by Costa Rican professionals in the field of Spanish as a second language contracted to design, implement, oversee and evaluate the program. The academic coordinator for the Spanish program is:

Gabriela García (Academic Coordinator)

(Master’s degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language from the University of Costa Rica, coursework for the Master’s in Latin American Literature program from the University of Costa Rica). Gabriela has participated in training programs at the Universidad Nacional and other institutions in Costa Rica. Gabriela has been working in this field since 1997, first as a professor and then as a coordinator. She has been the Spanish Coordinator for the Peace Corps and private institutions in Costa Rica and Panama. She has experience as a trainer for professors and as a curriculum coordinator for Spanish programs. She is certified by the ACTFL to conduct interviews and determine a student’s speaking ability. She is very interested in Intercultural Studies.


Karina Soto  (Field Coordinator of the Spanish Team and Classes)

(Bachelor's degree in Spanish Philology from University of Costa Rica).   Karina has been teaching Spanish language and literature to foreigners for over 20 years with different U.S. universities, including with LIU Global for 5 years and with other study abroad programs in Costa Rica including Pennsylvania Lutheran University, Chapman University, Spellman University, ICADS (Institute for Central American Development Studies), Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and currently with Northern Arizona University.  She has also taught Spanish and developed curricula and training materials in the private sector and for U.S. and Japanese government programs through local language institutes.  Karina has participated in numerous trainings related to language teaching, intercultural communication, and ACTFL’s Oral Proficiency Interview.