President, St. John’s College (Belize)
Mirtha Alicia “Alice” Peralta was appointed St. John’s College’s fifth lay president on November 1, 2015 and became the College’s first woman president since the founding of the school in 1887. She is an alumna of St. John’s College Junior College.
President Peralta began her career as an elementary school teacher and moved on to secondary education with teaching positions at all-girls and co-ed schools before joining St. John’s College High School, an all-boys Jesuit high school, in 2003. She subsequently transitioned to St. John’s College Junior College, where she served in various leadership positions, including Head of the Business Department from 2005 to 2009, Interim Dean from 2009 to 2011 and Dean from 2012 to 2015.
In her capacity as Dean, she oversaw a much-needed curriculum review for the Junior College. She was also a key contributor to the development of a software program that helped the institution evolve from a largely paper-based system to a more automated digital system. As Dean, President Peralta was passionate about strengthening academic advising for students and establishing a support system for students on academic probation.
President Peralta has always been passionate about and a proponent for the development of teachers in Belize. In 2014, when she was still the Dean of St. John’s, she collaborated with the administration and faculty of Saint Louis University (SLU) to develop a proposal for SLU to offer a Master’s in Educational Leadership, which was submitted to the Government of Belize. This collaboration also resulted in SLU faculty visiting Belize to provide early childhood and special education workshops to elementary school teachers from across the country, which were accepted as professional development hours by the Ministry of Education.
President Peralta has also advocated for continued professional development for faculty of higher education institutions in Belize, which led to the Association of Tertiary Level Institutions in Belize funding the first national two-day professional development conference for tertiary-level teachers, which was hosted by St. John’s College in 2014, and which continues on an annual basis. In 2017, she worked with Saint Louis University to provide a Doctorate Degree in Higher Education Administration for administrators of tertiary-level institutions in Belize, with the purpose of strengthening the higher education system in the country. In addition, with the assistance of several Jesuit universities (including Boston College, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University New Orleans, Saint Louis University and Regis University), she has obtained several scholarship opportunities for her faculty and staff with the objective of improving the human resources of the College.
President Peralta is also deeply committed to being an ally for people with disabilities, by creating an accessible campus at St. John’s College. She is currently a Board Member of The Ability Institute at Saint Louis University and St. John’s College is the recipient of two Ability Exhibits from SLU, which are used to promote awareness of people with disabilities across Belize.
Throughout her tenure, President Peralta has sought to keep St. John’s College at the forefront of education in Belize by significantly investing in infrastructure while ensuring financial profitability and viability for the College, and by promoting the development of academic programs to create and increase opportunities available for Belizean students. In 2017, a partnership with Loyola University New Orleans, led to the development of an Associate Degree in Music, which became the first program of its kind in Belize. Another collaboration (with the support of St. Louis University High School and the Clavius Project), helped to establish the first robotics camp for elementary and secondary school students at St. John’s College. Both initiatives have since expanded to become academic programs at St. John’s College High School.
More recently, under President Peralta’s leadership, St. John’s College has signed an articulation agreement with John Carroll University to ensure that St. John’s College students can matriculate directly into the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting, Finance, Economics and Marketing programs at the Boler College of Business. In conjunction with this initiative, John Carroll (through its Boler College of Business) has deployed its first online degree programs to students of St. John’s College, thereby ensuring that students in Belize can obtain an affordable quality Jesuit university education while reducing costs by remaining at home.
President Peralta received a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education, Business Education and Business Studies from the University College of Belize, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University.
President Peralta’s husband, Abner Peralta, is an attorney at law and Company Secretary of The Belize Bank Limited and Belize Bank International Limited. They have a son, Abner Jr., and a daughter, Aspen.