May 26, 2024

World-Ready

Alex Clegg is just as comfortable sitting on the lawn next to the Eiffel Tower as he is lounging in an Adirondack chair on Ball Circle. For the incoming senior, the college experience isn’t just about collecting academic credits – it’s about crafting a global education.

With 34 countries on his passport to date, the jet-setting senior returns to UMW this fall after checking off a semester in the Czech Republic and an internship and two-week game design course in Wales. And while overseas, Clegg won election as UMW Student Government Association president and landed a position on Finland’s National Men’s rugby team.

Alex Clegg stands inside the Palace of Versailles. Photo Credit: Maggie Gialamas
Senior Alex Clegg stands inside the Palace of Versailles. Photo Credit: Maggie Gialamas

“I grew up traveling,” said Clegg, who took his first trip to Europe before he was in high school. “My grandfather lives in Mexico so growing up, I was used to spending months at a time out of the country.”

It’s a lifestyle he’s applied to his college curriculum. The digital communications major flew to Europe last February to begin a semester at the CESP University of Economics in Prague, living in an apartment with American students outside the city center where he attended classes.

From Prague, Clegg traveled to Bangor University in Wales where he interned with the school’s International Education Center. Having worked as a peer advisor with UMW’s Center for International Education for two years, the internship gave him the chance to see the study abroad experience from the ‘other end.’ During his final two weeks abroad, he designed a video game as part of a Castle Quests course with six other students from UMW.

Picnic by the Eiffel Tower. Photo by Maggie Gialamas. Eating a Trdelnik in Prague. Outside Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. On top of the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius, Lithuania. A monastery in Hagspat, Armenia. A vista overlooking Tbilisi, Georgia. Standing in Sofia, Bulgaria. Senate Square in downtown Helsinki.

“Studying abroad widened my view of how daily life is lived all across the world,” said Clegg, who is originally from Arlington, Va. “I think each culture has something we can learn from.”

Between semesters, Clegg traveled extensively throughout Europe. Perhaps the most significant trip was his visit to Finland, where he tried out for and made the country’s National Men’s rugby team.

“My grandmother was Finnish so I was eligible for the team,” said Clegg, who has played club rugby for UMW for three years. “My first game, we led Finland to the country’s first-ever victory over Bulgaria.”

Now back in the U.S., Clegg is settling into his final year on the Fredericksburg campus, where he will wrap up his digital communications major and serve as SGA president.

“I’m going to build a two-way street between students and UMW’s administration,” said Clegg, who attended a leadership conference in August to prepare for his position. “I’m here to advocate for students and be a liaison between them and the administration.”

His global experience isn’t over yet though – this fall, he’s headed back to Finland for his next national rugby game.

“This is just the beginning,” said Clegg. “I plan to visit more than 100 countries in my lifetime.”