Did you know that John Paul II Junior College has established the first cybersecurity program in Belize through an international partnership?
We are excited to share with you this brand-new initiative to bring cybersecurity to the classrooms at John Paul. By means of new friendships at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, an MOU (memorandum of understanding) was signed in February of this year, setting the plan in motion. JP’s dean, Natalie Gallatin, worked quickly to get everything ready on our end, while Dr. Mark Amelang and Dr. Hans Stockton of UST worked their magic abroad.
“When we announced that we had signed with the University of St. Thomas, our community was immediately excited about the new opportunities that are now within reach. This signing established the only cybersecurity program in Belize and has the real possibility of national impact,” reports Ms. Gallatin.
This fall, it was agreed that JP students would take the cybersecurity courses from UST online, meeting in person with local teacher’s aid, Mr. Harry Noble. Raised in the sugarcane fields, Mr. Noble sought a different future for himself through computer science. Now residing in Benque, he is able to be a model and guide for our students. Every concentration is taken along with the same liberal arts core, and the cybersecurity concentration is no different. Since they take more credits than students in other concentrations, the cybersecurity concentrators need to be gritty and determined to succeed. Formed intellectually, spiritually, and morally by the liberal arts, our students will be able to enter the cybersecurity field and, through it, make a real impact on Belize. Indeed, they will be at the forefront of the field as the nation develops its technological industries.
Meet the first five students of the new program: Gian Guerra, Hailey Cruz, Damari Higueros, Eiden Mejia, and Angelo Cocom (not pictured). Their desire for an education in technology can now be realized thanks to those at UST who so willingly collaborated with us. The full impact this dream-turned-reality will have on Belize is yet to be seen, but we are hopeful it is another step towards a stable future for Belize’s youth.
When asked why she wanted to join the program, Damari replied, “Nobody in my family has ever studied computer science. I want to make my parents proud.”
Students like Gian and Hailey have had an interest in technology from a young age. Gian adds, “Since I was small, I have loved technology. Now, since there’s this opportunity in Benque, my hometown, I want to take advantage of it.”
The heavier credit load and the fact that our students are enrolled in an American university adds another consequence: expense. UST has given an enormously generous discount for their tuition which has enabled our students to afford the program. However, the overall cost, including ever-changing textbooks, is much more than our average student can handle, even with government and institutional aid. If you would like to help Gian, Hailey, Eiden, Angelo, and future students like them, donations can be given through our Give page.
Ms. Gallatin expresses her gratitude by saying, “To meet UST and, within the same year, get a program off the ground is remarkable. It is such a gift that a university with so much experience, expertise, and resources would come and meet us and make it happen—would open the door of success to students who can now dream in their hometown.”