By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
Naja K. Williams, a 2017 International Baccalaureate graduate of Ramsay High School in Birmingham, is among 10 incoming freshmen at Auburn University selected to participate in its Study Abroad Program this summer in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Williams and the other nine students will earn two credit hours while taking a course, “Explore Sustainability and Marine Science in an Island Environment” at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, St. John, and Tortola in the U.S. Virgin Islands from July 19-July 26.
“I applied for this program because there are not a lot of opportunities for incoming freshmen in college,” Williams said. “Being able to say that I studied abroad the summer before college even started is amazing and will help me in applying for future internships and graduate schools. Along with this, I applied because I simply love to travel and expose myself to different lifestyles around the world.”
This isn’t Williams’ first time in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but it will be her first time in the British Virgin Islands, she said.
The Fourth-Annual Pre-Freshmen Study Abroad Program is a one-week summer program designed to expose pre-freshmen to life and learning in an intercultural setting. Williams plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in veterinary science from Auburn University. This trip is a great opportunity to differentiate her education from other upcoming freshmen, she said.
“Studying marine biology on this trip will teach me a different aspect of aquatic life and how these creatures respond to their surroundings.” Williams said.
In addition to attending lectures at the University of the Virgin Islands, the students will participate in excursions including visits to Brewers Bay, Coral World Marine Park, Coki Beach, Mangrove Lagoon, and Etelman Observatory.
Studying abroad isn’t anything new to Williams. In the summer of 2016, Williams was among nearly two dozen students who represented Birmingham in a 17-day sister-city trip to Hitachi, Japan in which she stayed a week with a host family. She hopes to be able to study abroad again while in college.
“I believe that it brings a different element to education and opens many doors in the near future,” she said.