IHS senior attends conference in Alaska

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 9, 2003

While some of her friends were probably soaking in the sunlight this summer after watching television, Rebecca Dingus was studying economics amongst icebergs.

The Ironton High School senior spent July 7-14 at the Economics for Leaders program at the University of Alaska in Anchorage conducted by the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE).

The week-long educational program was designed to help high school seniors selected for their leadership potential gain a better understanding of how people make choices in commercial societies and how market economics work.

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Dingus said she found out about the program when she represented Ironton at the Hugh O'Brien Leadership conference during her sophomore year. Thirty-one students were chosen to go to Alaska, and she said she was told for every person picked, there were an additional 30 people that were not chosen. She only had to pay for her plane tickets to Anchorage, and the FTE paid for all other expenses.

Even though she had little prior knowledge of economics, Dingus said the experience was worthwhile. Not all of her classes dealt with economics. She said she and the other students would have two economics classes every morning and would participate in leadership activities throughout the day.

But, not all of her time in Alaska dealt with supply and demand.

When arriving at the airport, Dingus said she met two other girls, one from Florida and one from Texas, who were also on their way to the FTE program. The girl from Florida ended up being one of Dingus' three roommates. The other two were from California and Alaska.

"It was a great learning experience. We grew very close," Dingus said.

Before her trip, Dingus had been to Nicaragua where temperatures were considerably hotter than Alaska. Dingus said the colder weather was a welcome change even though it wasn't as cold as some may believe.

"It wasn't freezing," she said. "It was like early springtime."

Dingus and the other students also spent time cruising Portage Bay, watching icebergs, and seeing some of Alaska's wildlife which included bears, buffalo, deer, antelope and elk.

"I saw a moose walking across campus on the sidewalk," she said.

Her principal is quite proud.

"I think it's fabulous that any student would take the opportunity to learn about things outside the typical classroom," IHS principal Dean Nance said. "I'm proud she was selected to represent Ironton in the program."

"The background she got from her teachers here in Ironton made her an excellent candidate and capable to compete with students from other schools," Nance continued. "Rebecca deserves the credit for being self-motivated and having the desire to participate in something outside the regular school year."

Rebecca Dingus, who plans to major in biological sciences at Ohio University next fall, still e-mails her Alaska roommates. This summer, FTE is planning to sponsor a reunion in California in which the students will discuss what they will be facing in college.

"This will help her grow, and go, and go forth," Dr. Bill Dingus, her father said. "This was a tremendous experience for her. She's been pulling out terms and ratios, and it truly showed she got a good handle."