Our Directors & Staff

All of our onsite directors are bilingual & bicultural and are available our students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The onsite directors will be your program leader and will be there to lead and guide you during your study abroad experience. Our programs also have assistant directors that help manage the programs, especially during our excursions and cultural activities. Our directors are usually host-country nationals with cross-cultural experience. All of our directors have experience working with groups and have international experience (travel and work) and have studied abroad themselves as students.

  • Angelica Perez

    Angélica is a native josefina (someone born in San José, Costa Rica). She graduated as a tour guide from UNACE University in 2004. Since then she has worked with non-profit foundations and...

    Angélica is a native josefina (someone born in San José, Costa Rica). She graduated as a tour guide from UNACE University in 2004. Since then she has worked with non-profit foundations and travel companies sharing her knowledge of Costa Rica’s biodiversity and natural history with visitors from around the world. Angélica has worked with INBioparque, a national conservation foundation and wildlife park in Heredia, for many years. She also leads tours for Costa Rican school children with Sura, an environmental education company, and works with Poas International Corporation, a local company specializing in tourism for Costa Rican seniors citizens. In 2010 Angélica led workshops for at-risk youth on topics including environmental conservation, farming techniques, and recycling in their schools and communities with the Randy Explorer Foundation, a program sponsored by the government of Andorra. Angélica’s specialties include Volcanology, insects, mammals, birds, fungi, and reptiles. She is first aid and CPR certified and is trained in leading groups of people with disabilities. Angelica loves nature and her country and looks forward to sharing Costa Rica’s natural wonders with you!
    Email: info@soleducation.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelica.perez.3956
    University Attended: UNACE University (San Jose, Costa Rica)
    Year Graduated: 2004
    Languages Spoken: Spanish

  • Jacqueline Portilla

    Jacqueline, or Jackie as everyone calls her, is from Cartago, Costa Rica. For her university years she studied Tourism at the Hispanoamericana University in Heredia, Costa Rica. She has work...

    Jacqueline, or Jackie as everyone calls her, is from Cartago, Costa Rica. For her university years she studied Tourism at the Hispanoamericana University in Heredia, Costa Rica. She has worked in logistics with a tour transportation company and with an environmental consulting and education organization. Jackie has also taught tourism to high school students. She has served as a guide at the Fundecor, the Foundation for Development of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range and also with the Rio Loro Municipal Environmental Park. She is First Aid and CPR certified. Jackie looks forward to meeting you and sharing with you everything that Costa Rica has to offer!
    Email: jacqueline@soleducation.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jportillaleiva
    University Attended: Hispanoamericana University (Heredia, Costa Rica)
    Year Graduated: 2010
    Languages Spoken: Spanish

  • Janiva Cifuentes-Hiss

    A believer in the life-changing potential of travel, Janiva Cifuentes-Hiss fulfills her personal purpose by leading transformational journeys throughout the planet. Over the past decade, Jan...

    A believer in the life-changing potential of travel, Janiva Cifuentes-Hiss fulfills her personal purpose by leading transformational journeys throughout the planet. Over the past decade, Janiva has led study abroad, gap year, and volunteer programs in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panamá, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Perú, Argentina, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Spain. Her adventures have taken her to learn wilderness skills in the Amazon, practice yoga on the banks of the Ganges, vision quest in Patagonia, safari in East Africa, scuba dive off of the Bay Islands, and trek to the Mayan pyramids of Tikal and learn about the Inca civilization at Machu Picchu. She has led service learning programs focusing on sea turtle conservation, environmental education, and organic farming throughout Costa Rica. Born and raised in Olympia, Washington, Janiva´s passion for travel began at an early age when she visited her extended family in Colombia. In high school, she traveled to Japan with her host sister and Japanese teacher. Janiva studied abroad for a semester at the University of Salamanca in Spain where she delved into Latin American Literature, Religion and History. While abroad she backpacked in France, Italy, and Portugal. A After graduating from Pomona College with a BA in Latin American Studies, she moved to Costa Rica and completed a one-year internship in Sustainable Development, assisting with research in tropical ecology, natural resource management, and economics. Janiva is an international speaker and workshop facilitator who has presented at Envision Festival, Millersville University Conference for Global Well-Being and Social Change, United Nations University for Peace, Latina Youth Leadership Conference, National Student Conference on the Mixed Race Experience, and Shanti Festival. A freelance writer, her work has been published in Biobalance Magazine, The Tico Times, The Encyclopedia Latina, GoAbroad, Landings Magazine and Exploring Costa Rica Travel Guide. She also served as video editor with Super Natural Adventures, a children's wildlife series in Costa Rica. Janiva enjoys sharing her passion for nature, meditation, yoga, permaculture (a design philosophy for ecological living), and social justice with her students. She is First Aid and CPR certified and has served as Costa Rica Director with Sol Education Abroad since 2007.
    Email: janiva@soleducation.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vivajaniva
    University Attended: Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
    Year Graduated: 2005
    Languages Spoken: Spanish

  • Laura Ramírez Rodríguez

    Laura Ramírez Rodríguez is a native Herediana, born and raised in Heredia, Costa Rica. Since she was a child, she was drawn to history, architecture and world cultures. In 2005, she starte...

    Laura Ramírez Rodríguez is a native Herediana, born and raised in Heredia, Costa Rica. Since she was a child, she was drawn to history, architecture and world cultures. In 2005, she started her university studies in History, Theology and Architecture. She served as a volunteer in public elementary schools in Costa Rica for many years and has worked in architectural heritage conservation programs with the Costa Rican Ministry of Culture and Youth. Laura studied abroad as an exchange student at Santa Fe University (USA), Granada University (Nicaragua), NABA institute (Italy) and completed a professional training program in China. Since 2014, she has worked as a university professor in Latin American History and Architecture for international programs and local students. She served for many years as professor of Latin American Civilization and Culture for SOL Education Abroad students, who appreciated her personalized and experiential approach to learning and the many field trips she guided to Costa Rica’s best museums and art galleries. Her passion for learning led her to return to the university to specialize in Education and Educational Pedagogy. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Museology at the National University of Costa Rica and another in Anthropological Psychotherapy at the University of Salamanca (Spain). In her free time she likes to study languages, travel, and play analog games and puzzles. She is also a fan of cinematography and literature. She is first aid and CPR certified. Laura has become a beloved member of the SOL team and enjoys sharing her passion for history and culture with her SOL Mates!
    Email: laura.ramirez@soleducation.com
    University Attended: National University of Costa Rica
    Year Graduated: 2010
    Languages Spoken: Spanish

  • Leydi Hernandez

    Laura "Leydi" Hernández was born and raised in Heredia, Costa Rica where our program is based. Since she was a child her interest in nature was evident. In 2006 she started her s...

    Laura "Leydi" Hernández was born and raised in Heredia, Costa Rica where our program is based. Since she was a child her interest in nature was evident. In 2006 she started her studies in Tourism with a focus on Group Management. This is a profession that has allowed her to combine her passions of teaching, enjoying nature, culture and learning foreign languages. After graduating from Alajuela’s Community College, and getting her certification from the Costa Rican Tourism Board as a bilingual tour guide, Laura began her career in Tourism working at INBioparque, where she managed groups of local and foreign students. She had the opportunity to interact with tourists from all over the world and guided groups of professionals in botanic, entomology, education, bioprospecting, sustainable tourism, politics and health. She was also a tutor for summer workshops for children and teenagers. After her positive experience with INBioparque Laura continued working for different travel agencies as a freelance tour guide. She was able to gain more experience in the profession and had the chance to travel to amazing places all over Costa Rica. In 2009, Laura was hired to work for Travel Excellence Tour Operators (TETO) as their Coordinator of Sustainability Programs. In this position she developed tasks such as the implementation of a recycling program, planning and execution of communal activities and design trainings for local tour guides amongst other functions. Working as part of a team Laura took part in the ISO 9001 implementation and certification process with TETO. They obtained the highest level in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Award and recently undertook the process to obtain the Carbon Neutral Certification. In 2012, Laura completed a second degree in Sustainable Tourism Management at Estate Distance University and currently studies Portuguese and Italian (she loves languages!). During her free time, Laura enjoys being surrounded by nature above all else. She also loves visiting small Costa Rican towns, going to concerts and reading a good book. Laura looks forward to sharing all that Costa Rica has to offer with you!
    Email: info@soleducation.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laura.hernandez.7583
    University Attended: Estate University (Costa Rica)
    Year Graduated: 2009
    Languages Spoken: Spanish

  • María Molina

    María Molina was born in Alajuela, Costa Rica but grew up in the town of Atenas on the Pacific slope. She graduated from the Liceo de Atenas in 2003, where she was involved in many cultural...

    María Molina was born in Alajuela, Costa Rica but grew up in the town of Atenas on the Pacific slope. She graduated from the Liceo de Atenas in 2003, where she was involved in many cultural activities such as salsa dance classes and theater performances. In 2006, she received her degree in Costa Rican Tourism at the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje, and is currently working on a second degree in Business Administration. María has worked as an onsite director with Sol Abroad since 2007. From spring 2009 to spring 2010 María participated in an Au Pair program to improve her English skills. She lived near Baltimore, MD and was able to travel all over the US during her stay. This was an incredible opportunity to experience the country where the majority of the Sol students come from. Maria also lived for a few months in the Netherlands and has travelled to France, Belgium, Holland, Nicaragua and Panama. In her free time María loves studying languages, dancing, reading, drawing and going to the theater in San José whenever possible. She loves Latin American literature! Her favorite authors are Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. She also is passionate about ecological conservation and is a member of Apreflofas, a non-profit dedicated to the conservation of land and wildlife in Costa Rica. María is very proud of her country and culture and looks forward to sharing it with you! She lives in Heredia, just a few blocks from the Universidad Latina.
    Email: info@soleducation.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MariaMolinaEspinoza
    University Attended: Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (San Jose, Costa Rica)
    Year Graduated: 2005
    Languages Spoken: Spanish