Make The Connection

STEM + Society

November 25, 2019 – by Cole Hatcher

Ohio Wesleyan Student Gets CIEE Scholarship to Study in Central America for 18 Weeks

Ohio Wesleyan student Becca Strider ’20 says, “The beautiful ‘magic yellow city,’ called Izamal, was one of my favorite places I visited. Every building here was yellow, even the church behind me.” The city is located in the Mexican state of Yucatán. (Photo courtesy of Becca Strider)

Name: Becca Strider ’20
Hometown: Hillsboro, Ohio
Major: General Zoology
Minor: Religion
OWU Connection experience: Study abroad through CIEE Global institute in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and Mérida, Mexico

Strider received a full-tuition program scholarship from the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) to participate in its fall 2019 STEM + Society program in Central America.

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.

My Favorite Moments

“There have been so many incredible moments since I’ve been abroad. My first block was probably my favorite. I had no bad days (minus me breaking my toe, but that still wasn’t a bad day).

“It’s hard for me to pick just one favorite moment but one 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.

At Chichén Itzá, OWU’s Becca Strider ’20 learned about Mayan astronomy and culture. (Photo courtesy of Becca Strider)

“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.”

Lessons Learned

“Costa Rica and Mexico have taught me so much both in and out of the classroom.

“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.

“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.

“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).

While in Monteverde, Costa Rica, Becca Strider ’20 climbed to the top of a giant ficus tree. Unfortunately, this type of ficus wraps around its host tree, eventually strangling it. (Photo courtesy of Becca Strider)

“Mayan culture is also a huge part of my experience in Mexico. I learned about Mayan astronomy, how they developed their calendar, and how they built their pyramids (Chichén Itzá) in relation to their calendar.”

My Plans After Graduation

“After graduation, I plan to immediately start working in a zoo if possible. I have already started applying for multiple jobs across the country and in places such as London.”

Why I Chose OWU

“I chose OWU specifically for the zoology program. The liberal arts values and school size were also an influencing factor in choosing OWU.”