Hillsboro High School alumnae Becca Strider received a full-tuition program scholarship to study abroad in Central America.
Strider, who graduated from Hillsboro High School in 2016, spent the fall 2019 semester in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and Mérida, Mexico as part of the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Global Institute’s ‘STEM + Society’ program. As part of her 18-week experience, Strider spent 12 weeks in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and six weeks in Mérida, Mexico, where she explored connections linking culture, conservation, and a more sustainable future.
Strider said that Costa Rica has taught her things about the Costa Rica environment that she wouldn’t have learned back in the U.S.
“In Costa Rica, I learned about the ecosystem and had a first-hand experience learning how things worked together and relied on each other, how the amount of rain affects the vegetation, why the soil is nutrient-deficient, species interactions, the biodiversity of the tropics, and why the tropics are so important,” Strider said. “Being in Costa Rica has given me the opportunity to experience the environment in the tropics first-hand as well as observe a number of animals I would have not been able to see in the states.”
In Mexico, Strider was immersed in the local culture.
“I learned a great deal about Mayan astronomy and Mexican culture while in Mérida. I was immersed in the Mexican culture with food, traditions, and I was even able to partake in Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead),” Strider said. “I learned about Mayan astronomy, how they developed their calendar, and how they built their pyramids (Chichén Itzá) in relation to their calendar.”
Strider said that she really had no bad days while she was abroad.
“I will never forget would be when my friends here and I all laid out by our soccer field and watched the stars together. It was like a dream. We could see the Milky Way. We talked, laughed, and watched for shooting stars for hours,” Strider said. “My favorite academic memory was my first lab course. For our lab in tropical biology, we went on a six-hour hike in the cloud forest observing a number of different plants and animals. A truly unforgettable experience.”
Strider attends Ohio Wesleyan University, where she majors in general zoology. She’ll graduate in 2020.
“After graduation, I plan to immediately start working in a zoo if possible,” Strider said. “I have already started applying for multiple jobs across the country and in places such as London.”
Submitted by Cole Hatcher, Ohio Wesleyan University.