Ecuadorian Olympian and naturalist addresses USC students and military veterans

Dr. Diego Quiroga Ferri discusses the famed Galapagos Islands with Dr. Tom Mullikin’s
Ecotourism class and others

By Alex Junes-Ward

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Dr. Diego Quiroga Ferri, president of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (in Ecuador) addressed Dr. Tom Mullikin’s students at the University of South Carolina’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Speaking of his native Galapagos islands, an Ecuadorian archipelago located about 621 miles off the Ecuadorian mainland, Dr. Quiroga Ferri described in detail the islands’ geographic features, weather, rich vegetation and unusual wildlife all made famous by naturalist Charles Darwin in the 19 th century. Quiroga Ferri also discussed the islands’ population growth and primary trades, the economic importance of tourism, the recent impact of the worldwide COVID pandemic, and the unique history of the Galapagos including the archipelago’s strategic military importance to the United States during World War II.

“Dr. Diego Quiroga Ferri is not only a very close friend of many years, but he is quite literally the 21 st century’s foremost authority on the Galapagos,” said Mullikin, himself an accomplished explorer, researcher, and teaching expert on the Galapagos and other travelled and remote destinations around the world. “We invited Diego to speak as part of our ongoing collaboration between USC and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.”

Mullikin added, “Diego was an Ecuadorian Olympian in long distance swimming and has gained international fame for his swimming between the Galápagos Islands in order to raise awareness of their unique ecosystems.”  

Attending Mullikin’s Ecotourism class in which Quiroga Ferri was the guest professor, were Mullikin, his students, also retired U.S. Army Col. Kevin Shwedo, director of the S.C. Dept. of Motor Vehicles and the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army; Ben Duncan, S.C.’s chief resilience officer; Alex Butler, resilience office director, Clark Gray, a decorated U.S. Army combat veteran; Jared Evans, former U.S. Marine Recon NCO and director of Military Engagement and Veteran Initiatives at USC, and W. Thomas Smith Jr., a decorated U.S. Marine infantry veteran.

Mullikin, himself a former U.S. Army JAG officer attached to the U.S. Special Operations
Command, is a retired major general (commander) of the S.C. State Guard. He currently serves as chair of the gubernatorially established S.C. Floodwater Commission.

– Pictured are Dr. Quiroga Ferri and Dr. Mullikin in Ecuador.

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