We’d like to introduce the 2016 International Community Scholars.

Sarah Kuo  13015197_929149280541313_7415314053432173091_n

Sarah is a junior at the University of the Pacific, majoring in Geological and Environmental Science and minoring in Sustainability, Hydrology and Jazz Studies. As Sarah writes, “As a child of Taiwanese immigrants, the environmental and socioeconomic effects of climate change that plague the coast of Belize hits close to home. Being a part of a movement such as UCF REU that reaches out to work with affected communities is where I dream and need to be. It’s where I want to apply and sharpen not only what I learn in the classroom, but the adaptive and compassionate listening and communication skills I have learned from the people around me. And as I hope I can make an impact, I’m certain this experience will impact me and help me become an ever growing and learning scholar, artist, community builder and activist with an improving international frame of mind.”

Caleb Ball 13000222_928911957231712_8875575843979887600_n

Caleb is a junior at The Ohio State University majoring in Public Health with a concentration in Sociology. Caleb writes, “I am extremely excited about becoming an international community scholar at the UCF REU site in Belize because working in the community to help promote science and research is really important in fostering the future of our world. Specifically, I’m amped about the possibility of improving disaster preparedness plans and functions of different communities in Belize, with the help of the local residents. Hopefully, this experience will allow me to build better research skills, improve my cultural relations, and create some long-lasting friendships and partnerships.”

Amanda Ashby 13029599_928910407231867_5237321269106413878_o

Amanda is a student at the University of Central Florida majoring in Sociology. As Amanda writes, “I am interested in being an international community scholar in the UCF REU Site because of my passion for community based research and involvement. I believe that community members are our best resource and by working with them we will learn from their extensive knowledge of the local area and develop a stronger understanding of what we can do to assist them. I value the importance of helping others and of sharing my knowledge of sociology and GIS in order to provide a better way of life to those in need and I know that our team of researchers will make a positive difference in the lives of the people of Belize.”

James (Jake) Wade 12994510_928909613898613_7460409381671099936_n

Jake is a junior at SUNY Geneseo, double majoring in Economics and Geography and minoring in Urban Studies. Jake writes, “After high school I made a temporary move from the New York metropolitan area to Los Angeles, and was fascinated by the differing ways each city dealt with urban issues. After coming to Geneseo, this manifested itself into a strong interest in spatial analytics and GIS. GIS is an extremely powerful tool that has allowed me to analyze trends, patterns and issues in both urban and rural environments and prescribe solutions to them. I think that expanding access to this tool is extremely important, particularly in the developing world, as it empowers people to better understand and interact with their environment to build more livable urban spaces and preserve meaningful natural and cultural resources. While much of my time here at Geneseo has been dedicated to studying and using GIS, I still have a lot to learn about its application outside of the classroom, and I think that this experience will do just that. I hope to continue to use GIS and spatial analysis in international settings in graduate school and beyond.”

Jasmine Perez 13048004_928908827232025_5058306045766368547_o

Jasmine is a junior at the University of Miami majoring in Environmental Engineering, minoring in Mathematics and working towards a Certificate in Geospatial Technologies. She has been involved in undergraduate research, volunteering with the Army Corps of Engineers, working on a variety of service projects with Engineers Without Borders, competing in the Cuba Infrastructure Challenge, and interning for 300 Engineering Group. As a student, Jasmine strives to combine her passions for the environment, engineering, GIS, and community work. She is specifically interested in pollution remediation, disaster prevention and relief, ecosystem protection and restoration, and the improvement of water quality and access in rural areas. Jasmine is very excited to become an international community scholar at the UCF REU Site. She writes, that “she wants to be a part of this program because it will allow her to utilize her skills to perform research that has the potential to make a difference. It will give her a chance to bring together many of her interdisciplinary interests in order to gain insight and a valuable learning experience in a field that she is very passionate about.”

Hannah Bonestroo 13062463_928906077232300_6862843167442737789_n

Hannah is a junior at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN majoring in Geography with a concentration in Urban Studies. Hannah writes, “My main area of study is exploring how GIS can be used to assist local organizations with planning and making important decisions regarding future development. I am excited to be a part of this research team and to see how we can collaborate with the communities in Belize to use GIS as a tool to make informed decisions about the often conflicting equity, economic, and environmental issues they face.”

Saraneh Fitzgerald 12987070_928907670565474_1725369977846763384_n

Saraneh is a junior at Clark University majoring in Geography. As Saraneh writes, “I am interested in mapping and earth sciences and hope to integrate these passions towards a career in conservation in Central America. I also love working out in the environment and with people. Through the UCF REU in Belize, I will be able to expand upon and share my areas of interest with academics and community members from many different backgrounds. I chose this program because I anticipate to learn a lot while also making an impact.”

Ashley Little 13012803_928912593898315_8156605057041400594_n

Ashley is a student at Georgia State University majoring in Biology. As Ashley writes, “I am passionate about being a UCF REU scholar because I believe that we are all part of a dynamic human network of communities. Although societies may have an interest in preserving their natural resources for the future, this desire will never supersede the need to provide for their families in the present. That is why community based research is so essential—it is only through partnership between local communities and international researchers that problems can be solved.”