By HOWARD BALABAN firstname.lastname@example.org
Medina Journal-Register — For the next year, Medina’s Bridgette Yaxley will be communicating with the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Specifically, she will be one of their correspondents in the American Spaces Online Education Federal Division.
“They are researching and gathering data and investigating how the government can use online education and technology resources to better serve university and college students,” Yaxley explained. “I’m assisting in the process, preparing reports to present to the State Department.”
The official title for Yaxley is Virtual Student Foreign Services Intern, and the job is entirely web-based. “All the reporting is online with Skype and teleconferencing,” she said.
The point of the program, according to Yaxley, is “to try to attract more international students to take more online courses at American colleges.” Another aspect involves “trying to understand how to engage more teaching faculty and get them more interested in worldwide teaching online,” she added.
As a doctoral student, the eInternship compliment’s Yaxley’s dissertation, which is called Faculty Skepticism of Online Teaching and Learning.
Yaxley recalled finding the opportunity on, of all places, the Department of State’s Facebook page.
“I wanted to think outside the box as far as how I could apply my doctoral studies outside the university and collegiate level,” Yaxley stated. As a teacher in both the classroom and online for the past 10 years, Yaxley said the eInternship provided a “good, different challenge.”
The challenge also involves researching the appeal of online classes, and what can be done to entice students to enroll in them worldwide. “What about American culture entices international students?” she said. “And what’s the stumbling block with faculty? Why do some say bring it on and others stay way?”
Yaxley added that she is looking forward to finding those answers.
According to her, 300 spots were open for 3,000 applicants. She was interviewed via phone, and then a week later she learned she landed one of the coveted placements.
“I think it’s exciting,” she said. “This has inspired me to continue to investigate more opportunities.”
Yaxley’s father’s family has lived in the area since 1854. She is the second member of her family to work for the government, as she mentioned her aunt, Kris Yaxley Valentino (also a Medina native) was an aeronautical engineer who had a hand in designing some NASA projects.
Yaxley moved to Medina about a year ago because she “wanted to be in a place that felt familiar, felt like home.” Since the move, she has worked to put her education and experience to use “for the betterment of community projects.” Currently, she sits on the board of directors of the Lions Club and teaches English at Nazareth College while finishing her doctorate of education in teaching and curriculum from the University of Rochester.