Jade Vasquez ’12 was recently featured in an article in Norwood News, a Bronx-area newspaper, for her work as a Youth Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps, in rural El Salvador.
Vasquez, who was one of four members of the Classes of 2012 to have been accepted to serve in the Peace Corps, has helped establish a scholarship program to help students in El Salvador go to high school or college. The value of scholarships was a lesson she learned firsthand.
“I went to college pretty much on full scholarship, and I wouldn’t have been able to go if I’d had to pay myself,” says Vasquez, a four-year recipient of the Carl. M. Anderson Memorial Scholarship.
Vasquez earned her B.A. in international relations and Spanish and Hispanic studies from William Smith College magna cum laude and with honors. She completed a double minor in political science and Latin American Studies. As a student,she was active with Jumpstart, was a tour guide for admissions, a Spanish teaching fellow and volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at Fundación Balia, a nonprofit organization in Spain that guides immigrant children through their immersion into the Spanish language, culture and education system. She studied abroad a second time in Ecuador and Peru. Vasquez earned the President’s Civic Leaders Award and the Latin American Studies Association Prize in Latin American Studies.
The full article is available below and online.
Kingsbridge Native Brings a Touch of the Bronx to El Salvador
Janaki Chadha •December 3, 2014
Kingsbridge native Jade Vasquez has wanted to join the Peace Corps since she was a high school student. Now, she is part of the organization as a Youth Development Volunteer in rural El Salvador, working with at-risk youth in a community where higher education is scarce and gang violence and poverty are rampant.
Vasquez is a long way from home, though she certainly misses it. These days, her experience has offered some perspective.
“It’s funny, because growing up [in the Bronx], a lot of people see how difficult it is and they just want to leave, so that was always my plan,” said Vasquez. “But now that I’ve been doing all of these things and have been to all of these places, I really love the Bronx, and I appreciate it a lot more than I did before.”
The problems in the Bronx somewhat mirror those on the outskirts of more populated regions of El Salvador, though they are on a different level. Anti-gang initiatives and school options are more accessible in the Bronx, but programs in El Salvador are scant. Access to education is there, though remote communities are challenged by faraway schools and transportation costs.
For this, Vasquez and a few fellow Peace Corps volunteers started a scholarship program called “Aid El Salvador” to offer students the chance to continue their education. The program, she explained, is, “for Peace Corps volunteers in El Salvador who are interested in soliciting funds or soliciting donations from the U.S. from friends and family to support sending these kids to high school and college.”
Her years as a student have strengthened the importance of scholarships in her mind. “I went to college pretty much on full scholarship, and I wouldn’t have been able to go if I’d had to pay myself,” she said.
Vasquez, volunteering in El Salvador since January 2013, has been interested in international relations and issues within developing countries since her younger years. During her time as an undergrad at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, she studied abroad in Ecuador and Peru, where she also volunteered in local communities. It was there she realized the Peace Corps was for her, seeing it as the, “closest thing to hands on or grassroots development that I can do without having to pay out of pocket to do it.”
Vasquez stressed the importance of volunteerism, in any form, but also talked about the personal fulfillment she has gained during her travels with the Peace Corps. “I feel like I’m doing a lot, but we always say the people volunteering always get a lot more out of the experience than the people they’re helping.”
Those who wish to donate may contact Vasquez via email at email@example.com.