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Cougar Characters: Shelby Booth

Many consider their spring break and J-term trips to be once in a lifetime, but one student is going back for more.

Shelby Booth is a passionate volunteer with an enthusiastic servant’s heart. It comes as no surprise that she will use her talents to spend her final semester at MVNU student teaching in Belize.

Beginning her senior year, Booth experienced obstacles to her student teaching when the program she was supposed to be a part of in San Diego was cancelled. She was then given two options: Columbus or Belize.

After spending last J-term in Belize, Booth had already fallen in love with the country. The decision was simple.

“I want to go student teach there again because I loved it, and I felt that God has been telling me that I need to go back,” Booth said.

This semester, Booth will be impacting the lives of adolescents in Belize. As an integrated language arts major, Booth has focused the majority of her teaching on English and writing, but knows she will need to be flexible.

“I’ll be teaching anything,” Booth said.

During her previous trip to Belize, Booth was asked to take over a classroom for a few days when the teacher was out sick.

“The principal came up to me and said, ‘Can you just take over for the day?’” Booth recalled. “So I was teaching Spanish, math and science.”

Booth knows this kind of flexibility is needed on a daily basis when pursuing a career in education, but not just in the classroom. As she spends her time in another country, she will need to be flexible in every aspect of life.

“You have to be willing to not shower for days and see tarantulas walking around and be okay with that,” Booth said.

Though some things may push Booth out of her comfort zone, she is extremely excited to see the kids. She will be working with the same group she spent time with during her previous trip in 2015.

“There’s a very strong bond” said Booth about her students.

She remembers playing soccer with the kids after school and strengthening her relationship with her students.

“I am really looking forward to being with them again and continually pouring into their lives and being a role model for them,” Booth said.

Her one goal for the semester is to show the students how much she loves and cares for them.

“And, in a broader sense, that despite all the brokenness in that country and all the families that are hurting, God is there for them,” Booth explained. “He’s going to stand by them if they put their faith in Him, and they will be able to do whatever they want to do.”

Booth’s compassion for the children is obvious. She sees their potential and wants them to dream big.

“These kids have such big dreams, and I don’t want them to settle for doing things just because of their circumstances,” Booth said. “I want them to believe in themselves.”

Booth hopes to be an advocate for them and build their confidence.

“It’s hard to explain how much I care and how obvious God has been working through this whole thing,” Booth said. “I love it there. I wish everyone could go visit and see these kids because they are so awesome!”

While she isn’t sure where she will end up after graduation, Booth doesn’t see herself in the typical American nine-to-five job.

“Wherever God takes me, I really don’t care,” Booth said. “I will go anywhere, I just want to keep my options open and wait in the Lord and see where he is guiding me."

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