Centre College's Elizabeth Alexander travels to Belize to work at Ocean Academy

Related Media

Ocean Academy, located off the coast of Belize, was Elizabeth Alexander's (above, center) first choice as she was searching for a suitable internship.

DANVILLE, KY (01/23/2014)(readMedia)-- Elizabeth Alexander of Louisville, a senior international studies major at Centre College, traveled to one of the world's newest countries to get a firsthand look at how educational infrastructure is established and maintained.

CentreTerm is the College's three-week January term that allows students and faculty the opportunity to explore a single subject intensively, often through travel abroad. The short term works particularly well for unique internships like Alexander's.

"The island where Ocean Academy is located, Caye Caulker, is a few miles off the mainland and takes an hour to get to via ferry," Alexander explains. "Before Ocean Academy was founded, there wasn't a high school on the island, so students had a lot of difficulty accessing education after the eighth grade.

"The school is only five years old," she adds, "so it struck me as an opportunity to help build something new and contribute to the early structuring of a really important operation."

Alexander's contribution included serving as a teacher's assistant, helping with math and English classes, and running an after-school art club that plans to complete a mural on the school building.

"My favorite experiences were the student-led introductory activities," Alexander says. "We had a student take the volunteers on a kayak tour of the island, and we were invited to dinner at another student's home. Getting a look at the community from their perspective was really interesting and fun."

All of Alexander's work is part of helping the new school grow and prosper, an endeavor that will not only perform immediate good for the students and families of Caye Caulker but also help Alexander forge ahead towards a possible career.

"My ideal future career field would be in development," she says. "For me, working directly with education, which, infrastructurally, is very new in Belize (the government is just in the early stages of subsidizing and advancing early education), is an experience that will give me important insights. Seeing the way privately founded schools operate in a developing nation is a perspective I'm excited to gain."

Alexander is the daughter of Peg Coots and Stuart Alexander of Louisville and is a graduate of DuPont Manual High School.