Former Peace Corps members share experiences

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Created by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has been fulfilling its mission to work toward world peace and understanding for over half a century. Volunteers are sent all over the globe to help with international projects, including Let Girls Learn, Feed the Future, and President’s Malaria Initiative.

Why should Rollins students and alumni consider joining this organization?

UCF campus recruiter Brittany Libbey explains the many advantages of serving in the Peace Corps: “Volunteers… have the opportunity to travel, learn a new language, and gain hands-on work experience.

“Additionally, upon finishing service, returned volunteers benefit from transition funds, advantages in applying for federal employment, career services support, and financial assistance for graduate school programs through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship.”

Many Rollins alumni and professors who served in the Peace Corps stress the importance of its impact on their lives as a whole.

As Ryan Wolf ’08 attested, “I had never been out of the country before, and it was incredible to see… how people interact and what they have to deal with on a daily basis is completely different.”

The Peace Corps is an opportunity to witness, help, and learn about different cultures first-hand, something that can clearly have a large impression. Kayli Ragsdale ’12 also understands this, stating, “…my Peace Corps service is much more than just a highlight on my resume… Peace Corps isn’t some mountaintop experience where one discovers the meaning of life…. One isn’t up on the mountain top; one is down in the trenches.
“…I was exposed to such high degrees of adversity that all the things I once thought were important or essential to a happy life—anything else society tells we need to be happy—were all burned away.”

Ultimately, the Peace Corps offers students the chance to act upon the desire for global citizenship fostered here at Rollins. That being said, these experiences are not limited to Rollins students.

Tutoring and Writing Center Coordinator Suzanne Robertshaw and her husband, Chris Rock, have integrated teaching and world travel into their graduate school and later professional lives through the Peace Corps.

When asked about the effect the Peace Corps had on their lives Robershaw stated, “We both had changed our focus from our undergrad majors, mostly due to our time in the Peace Corps and in France and Portugal…. The Peace Corps opened up the whole world to me.”

Rollin’s own Peace Corps Regional Recruiter, Chad Chernet, echoed Robertshaw’s sentiment when he attested that “the memories… cannot be replicated through any other life experience.

“The most rewarding aspect of Peace Corps service is knowing that the impact you make within the community survives long after your service has ended.” If you would like to be a part of this impact, applications are due October 1 in order to begin service in Spring 2017.

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