OCHS senior will study abroad

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By Rebecca DeSensi

For Oldham County High School senior Elaine Alvey, the final year of high school will take on quite a different complexion than the blue and white painted corridors of OCHS.

Instead, she’ll be living in a castle as a student of the United World College’s Atlantic campus in the United Kingdom. While participating in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership forum last summer, Alvey learned of the United World College program, and was anxious to participate in the global learning experience.

“Because the campus is made up of students from all around the world, there is an emphasis on the need to do things as a global community,” said Alvey of the UWC mission. “The service component of the curriculum is huge.”

UWC is a two-year program that takes the place of what would be a student’s 12th and 13th years of school. But Alvey says she doesn’t consider this as an extra year of high school.

“I see this as going to college early. I will be living far away and taking higher level classes,” she said. “I think of it as a totally different experience than returning to a traditional high school.”

Founded in 1962, UWC is made up of 12 campuses worldwide. Alvey said the campus to which you’re assigned is based on random selection; she could’ve ended up anywhere from Montezuma, New Mexico to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Roughly 800 American students applied for 50 American slots in this year’s incoming UWC class. There will be seven other American students at Alvey’s campus, the charter of the UWC campuses, located in Wales. The highly competitive selection process, which Alvey says was similar to applying for the Governor’s Scholars Program in Kentucky, narrowed the field to more than 1,200 entrants worldwide for this fall’s class. Those students will be distributed among the 12 campuses.

For Alvey, the mission of the college follows the paths she’s already outlined for herself while in Oldham County. A politically active youth, Alvey was the founder and president of OCHS’ Young Democrats Club, an executive committee member of Oldham County’s Democratic Party, an ACLU member, a political campaign volunteer, and she dedicated her summers to National Park conservation.

“I’ve always been into social justice,” Alvey said. “I’ve spent a lot of time at political rallies and I’m excited to be around people with a similar agenda. The mission of the college is to use education to unite people. I am looking forward to working with other young people to create a peaceful global community.”

Alvey has received the Davis Scholarship through UWC which will provide her with free tuition and room and board, essentially a “free ride.” All American students attending UWC receive the Davis Scholarship, which is a part of the Davis United World College Scholars Program. After completing two years at her UWC campus, the Davis Scholarship will also provide significant financial contributions to Alvey should she choose to study at one of 76 approved American higher education institutions.

Alvey says her family is supportive of her big move, “my parents are trying to cram in two years of parenting. They didn’t expect me to be moving away this soon, but they’ve been so supportive and my younger siblings can’t wait to come visit.” And while she will be leaving the nest, and her traditional high school years, a little earlier than expected, Alvey said she’s excited for the new adventure.

“It’s been hitting me slowly that I won’t be returning to Oldham County High School,” she said. “When we got our yearbooks I thought, oh I won’t have a senior picture, I won’t have a senior quote, and I won’t walk in graduation. But I will be making new traditions at UWC.”