Four members of the Classes of 2012 have been accepted to serve in the Peace Corps, exemplifying the continued commitment of the Colleges and its students to community service and volunteerism. Cristian Cedacero ’12, Caitlin Hughes ’12, Katie Serock ’12 and Jade Vasquez ’12 will begin their two-year commitments to the organization this fall, working to promote international understanding and providing aid to those in need.
Cedacero, a sociology major, will serve his term with the Peace Corps in sub-Saharan Africa. He believes the Peace Corps will provide him with the opportunity to forge friendships, learn a new language and gain the confidence and knowledge to help change the world.
“I want to make a difference. Throughout our college careers we learn about the problems of the world, and I think Peace Corps is a good way to start attempting to solve some of those problems,” says Cedacero. “I want to dedicate my life to making this world a better place for all – and the Peace Corps is the first step in the long and difficult journey that rests ahead.”
Caitlin Hughes ’12, an international relations major, will serve as an English teacher with the Peace Corps, although her placement has yet to be determined.
At the Colleges, Hughes has been exposed to the incredible service work of students, staff and faculty and witnessed the impact their work has had on the community. Choosing to study abroad in Nicaragua, South Africa and Jordan also left a lasting impression on Hughes who is excited to continue to serve and help those most in need.
“Everything I have done on campus has helped me gain confidence to know that I can do something bold and different – and thrive doing so,” says Hughes, who has served as a chair for the Day of Service, worked as an America Reads tutor, and participated in the Alternative Spring Break and Leadership programs. “All that HWS has to offer has helped me become a better person; one who is passionate about giving back, serving others and really trying to make an impact.”
Serock ’12, an environmental studies major and Latin American studies minor, will serve in Central or South America as an environmental educator.
“Since my study abroad experience in Argentina, all I have wanted to do is travel and experience new people and cultures,” reflects Serock. “The Peace Corps is the perfect program to submerse oneself in a country, while facilitating people with their community’s needs. Hopefully as an environmental educator, I will be working in the agricultural field where I’ll be able to gain hands-on experience and bring it back to the United States with me – and maybe even develop my own farm.”
Vasquez ’12, an international relations and Spanish and Hispanic studies double major, will serve in North Africa, the Middle East or Asia where she will teach Secondary English.
It was Vasquez’s experience abroad that ultimately led her to the Peace Corps. In Spain, Vasquez volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at Fundación Balia, a nonprofit organization that guides immigrant children through their immersion into the Spanish language, culture and education system. “A lot of the children and their families lived in the poorest neighborhoods in Madrid,” recalls Vasquez. “After spending a couple of months with them and learning about their experiences in their native countries, I realized that I wanted to go abroad again – but this time in a less wealthy country.”
Thus Vasquez was led to Ecuador and Peru, where she studied abroad a second time, and learned about the social, political, and economic issues of a developing country. “My experiences volunteering and studying in Latin America seemed so short,” explains Vasquez. “I always felt that had I been there a little bit longer, I would have a more significant impact; I think the Peace Corps will allow me time to do just that.”
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 9,095 volunteers are working with local communities in 75 host countries. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries.