International spotlight: Learning to help back home

When he came here in 2002, Alexis Goffe fell in love with all things Minnesotan: the people, the location, and even the snow. After completing his undergraduate degree at Macalester College, he went to work in England for a summer. After completing his work in England and returning home to Kingston, Jamaica, Goffe was longing to come back. “I was sad when I missed the first day of snow in the fall, and that was a sign I needed to go back to the place where I fit so well.”

Alexis Goffe

Alexis Goffe

In spring 2009, Goffe began the Counseling Psychology graduate program at St. Thomas. He has enjoyed the guidance from faculty advisers and emphasis on multicultural populations. “I am building my identity as a psychologist because of great professors who are practicing what they teach each day with diverse populations. They are able to relate the real world to the classroom, which has helped me greatly.”

Along with school, working as an office assistant in the School of Law’s Career and Professional Development office and being a mentor withthe Office of International Student Services’ Mentor Program, he has been working diligently to find ways to better the lives of Jamaicans. With the involvement of other Jamaicans and friends of Jamaicans, he has started JaMinn Link, a fellowship to help Jamaican high school students who have been affected by violence, to continue their education. 

“In Jamaica, students graduate high school in 11th grade. There are optional 12th and 13th grades, which are needed to attend college. Forty-one thousand students graduate the 11th, but only 5,000 spots are available in public schools for 12th and 13thgrade. JaMinn Link works to raise money for students to attend other 12th and 13th grades (i.e., private schools), and to provide them mentor programs, education to change trends in violence, and holistic help. We are hoping to have our first fellows begin 12thgrade next fall,” Goffe explained.

Throughout his undergraduate study at Macalester and now his graduate study at St. Thomas, Goffehas been developing his counseling psychology skills. “With each thing I learn, I think of how it could be applied in Jamaica,” Goffe said. After completing a doctorate in psychology, Goffe plans to return to Jamaica, continue his work with JaMinn Link, and open his own practice. He hopes to have an impact on the mental health system in Jamaica, with an emphasis on the mental health of children and adolescents.

Although Goffe misses his family, the sunshine (but not the heat) in Jamaica, and Jamaican-Chinese food, he suggests that students study abroad. “Along with the great education system and professors, St. Thomas offers an international and multicultural environment with an emphasis on community, social justice and service," he said. "If you come with an open mind and use all of the opportunities available, you will enjoy your experience. But, do not suffer in silence (use the many resources available to you) and (quoting Voltaire): ‘Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.’  Enjoy your time and experience.”

(E-mail Goffe for more information about JaMinn Link.)