The newest class of Peace Corps members will dedicate more than two years to serving communities around the globe. The students were recognized with a reception in the Student Professional Development Center on Tuesday.
By Sarah Collins ‘18
Three members of from Elon’s Class of 2017 are preparing to enter the Peace Corps this fall to serve in Zambia and Nicaragua.
Kirsten Goodwin, Laura Brockington and Sophie Parker are among the newest members of an organization whose mission is to create sustainable change on the grassroots level through global camaraderie. Elon’s Student Professional Development Center hosted a ceremony to honor these students on May 9.
The Peace Corps, a volunteer program run by the federal government, enables participants to go abroad for more than two years to serve in a variety of roles in government, education and service.
Since 2013, Elon has offered a Peace Corps Prep Program for students planning to apply for the opportunity. Elon students taking part in the program complete courses in environmental science, food security, green design, global awareness and foreign language. They also must incorporate 100 hours of volunteer service into their degree plans.
Kirsten Goodwin, who will travel to Zambia to serve as a community health volunteer, completed the program’s global health track through her majors in environmental science and public health.
“I first became interested in Peace Corps during a history course my sophomore year,” she says. “We learned about the importance of presenting a better view of Americans abroad and helping with sustainable development.”
Through the global health track, Goodwin participated in coursework, networking events and a study abroad experience in Tanzania that prepared her to serve as a Peace Corps member. In her role in Zambia, she will provide HIV and AIDS education to an underserved community.
Laura Brockington, an environmental science major who will travel to Nicaragua to serve as an environmental educator, says Elon was fundamental in her decision to join Peace Corps.
“Elon has played a big role in my desire to work with the Peace Corps,” she says. “The Peace Corps Prep Program overlapped a lot with my environmental science major. And Elon’s goal of promoting global citizenship – those are the same skills that the Peace Corp looks for in applicants.”
Sophie Parker will also be traveling to Nicaragua to educate primary students about environmental issues. The sociology major credits Elon for fueling her interest in living abroad after graduation.
“Elon is the connector between me and this program,” she says. “Because of the resources that Elon provides, students really can become internationally aware global citizens.”
Brockington and Parker have significant experience with Spanish through Elon coursework and multiple study abroad experiences. They anticipate these skills will help with their transition to life in Nicaragua.
During the Peace Corps reception, Elon alumna Lisa Farrel ’12 spoke about her experience serving with the Peace Corps in Paraguay. During her time as an agriculture volunteer, Farrel facilitated the construction of community gardens, compost toilets and an “eco-house” created from sustainable materials.
“My favorite thing about Peace Corps is the friendships you make,” she says. “Your network grows exponentially. The people you meet are always willing to help you out.”
Addressing Elon’s newest class of Peace Corps members, Farrel shared that although two years may seem like a long time, her period as a Peace Corps volunteer passed by quickly. Farrel returned to the U.S. from her two-year stay in January.
The ceremony also recognized members of Elon’s class of 2017 who completed the Peace Corp Prep Program but have not applied to Peace Corps at this time. Audette Martins and Elena Goldman completed the “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages” (TESOL) track; Chloe Donohoe, Lauren Salig and Alexa Trost completed the global health track; and Laura Todd completed the agriculture and environment track.
With the addition of Elon’s latest class of Peace Corps members, 20 Elon alumni will be serving in Peace Corps programs around the world. Students interested in Elon’s Peace Corps Prep Program can find more information here.