Cynthia Balthazar, PhD

Cynthia Balthazar

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CSUS - International Development; Education and Civic Engagement
Department of Community Sustainability

Hometown: Cadillac, Michigan

Advisor: Murari Suvedi

I was born in the Northern part of  Lower Michigan to a Dairy farming couple and am one of eight children. In addition to running a Dairy farm, my parents planted trees and cared for the forests on the land they owned. I entered college after high school to study mathematics, chemistry and secondary education and after teaching for a couple years, I chose to stay at home to raise my five children. When my youngest was 6, I returned to school to obtain my Masters degree in Chemistry education and from that, moved on to begin my PhD here at Michigan State University. While working on my advanced degrees, I have been teaching Chemistry at the community college level and teaching mathematics at local secondary schools.

In 2009, just prior to moving to the Lansing area, I visited Haiti for the first time and began to work with a non-profit organization that sponsored a school in the rural Southeast region of the country. After the January 12, 2010 earthquake, I started my own non-profit to expand the types of programs and services we could provide to the people of Haiti. The members of our non-profit, Return to Haiti Inc ( choose how we serve the communities by first meeting with the community members and discovering their needs and desires. It is a result of this process that we are creating a community library, forming a Coffee Farmers' Association and searching for solutions to the problems of access to clean water and ability to grow nutritious food.