RISE 2019 Conference

Transforming University Engagement In Pre- and Post-Disaster Environments: Lessons from Puerto Rico

Luisa Seijo Maldonado

Professor of Social Sciences

University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez


havidan rodriguez photo

Luisa Seijo Maldonado is a professor at UPRM as well as an activist for the community. She has been involved with helping the community around her for over forty years with no plans of retiring in the coming years. She has funded eight organizations across Puerto Rico, and has worked in nine different places where she’s helped and cared for the community.

She kept this in mind when she went to get her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Social Work. She did a double degree in three years (1967-1971) in the Pontificio Universidad de Ponce, now known as la Católica de Ponce. She was the first person in their bachelor’s program who pursued a practice in the orientation and service center for the beach in Ponce.

She studied for her Masters’ at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras campus, where she did her practice at the Escuela Independiente para Mujeres which works with women serving time prison. She also worked in the university project in Vega Baja called Esfuerzos Unidos por Trocha y Río Abajo, or ENTRA. She finished her Master’s in just one year, maximizing her time to start working with communities and the projects she had in mind.

She has been working with UPRM since 1997. Aside from her project Siempre Vivas she founded the Instituto Universitario para el Desarrollo de las Comunidades which she formalized in 2003. Here she works with different communities around Puerto Rico, helping them to get a better life inside the community while bringing awareness in areas like nature, education, and work. Her first encounter which started this was with the Kennedy-Candelario community in 1998. After Hurricane George, the neighborhoods El Mani and Trastalleres asked for help after the devastations that swept them. They did a brigade with students and professors of the whole campus. In February 2003, the institute was formalized, and there was a seminar which helped to have more than thirty communities became a part of the Institute.