Following a highly competitive admissions process, Amanda Reusch ’15, Emily Surprenant ’15, Anna Dorman ’14 and Nicolas Walker ’13 will soon kick off their tenures of service with the Peace Corps, continuing a fruitful connection between the Colleges and the renowned international service organization. The four will begin their stateside training this summer before embarking on a two-year service commitment in locations across the globe.
“Hobart and William Smith are delighted that this impressive group of students and alums have been accepted to serve in the Peace Corps,” says President Mark D. Gearan, who served as director of the Peace Corps from 1995 to 1999. “Their pursuits after graduation are emblematic of the Colleges’ commitment to service and preparing students to lead lives of consequence. They join the ranks of many other HWS alumni and alumnae who have dedicated themselves to giving back in communities around the world.”
Established in 1961, the Peace Corps dispatches thousands of volunteers abroad each year to serve at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development. Corps members gain cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy.
As a Corps member, Reusch will teach secondary English in Tanzania during her two-year tour. A dual major in chemistry and women’s studies, Reusch says she’s excited to experience the Peace Corps’ focus on cultural exchange.
“I wanted to apply to the Peace Corps because my women’s studies major really challenged me to look for ways to gain a more intersectional lens of the world,” Reusch says. “I’m excited to be able to learn about and connect with people whose views are different than my own.”
At the Colleges, Reusch is the co-leader for the HWS Christian Fellowship, the treasurer for HWS Campus Peer Ministry, and a volunteer with Neighbor’s Night, an afterschool program that provides a hot meal and safe environment for young people in Geneva. She also works as a research assistant for Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry William Eckenhoff.
Also commencing her track in the Peace Corps this summer, Surprenant will teach secondary English to primary school students in Kosovo.
“Having the opportunity to dedicate two years of my life to learning about other cultures, development and sustainability initiatives, and myself through acts of service is the perfect extension on the work I am doing in my community now at HWS, but taken to a global, long-term level,” says Surprenant, an international relations major with a writing and rhetoric minor. “Through cross-cultural interactions rooted in development, I am eager to learn and to grow through a program dedicated to empowering others, including myself, to become bold, resourceful, global citizens, ready to shape a changing world.”
A participant in the Teacher Education Program on campus, Surprenant looks forward to applying the skills she’s learned and fully exploring her passion for instruction. On campus, Surprenant is the co-chair of Relay for Life, co-president of Colleges Against Cancer, former president of the debate team, member of the HWS String Ensemble, a Writing Fellow and a member of the Laurel Society.
In addition to the William Smith Class of 2015, alums Dorman and Walker will represent HWS in the Peace Corps with their assignments in Rwanda.
“I have wanted to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer for basically as long as I can remember,” Dorman says. “I have always been so inspired by the ideals represented by the program and the returned volunteers who I have met.”
After graduating with a degree in international relations, Dorman joined AmeriCorps as a VISTA volunteer at the Hawai’i Alliance for Community Based Economic Development, where her primary responsibility is further developing the ‘Ohana Based Youth Savings Initiative.
During her time at HWS, Dorman was president of Americans for Informed Democracy, president of the HWS debate team, and president of the William Smith Class of 2014. She served as a Civic Leader through the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning, during which she coordinated the HWS Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Walker will serve with Dorman in Rwanda. After graduating summa cum laude from Hobart with a B.A. in history, Walker joined Teach for America and is serving as an eighth-grade English and social studies teacher instructor in Oahu, Hawaii. He also coaches middle school boys’ basketball and soccer. While at HWS, Walker was a member of the debate team and volunteered for America Reads.
“My time at Hobart and William Smith Colleges has made me conceptualize myself as a global citizen,” says Walker, who credits Gearan and the Colleges’ emphasis on service as a decisive factor for attending HWS. Walker says the student-faculty connections were also influential to his HWS experience, including guidance from Associate Professor of Political Science Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Associate Professor of Political Science Vikash Yadav and Dean of Hobart College Eugen Baer P’95, P’97, HON’07.
The Peace Corps is committed to the service of other countries and the development of positive relationships between Corps members and locals. Approximately 220,000 Americans have served since its founding, with the vast majority of volunteers completing their tour in Africa. Peace Corps targeted areas of assistance include food security, HIV/AIDS risk reduction, malaria prevention, gender equality, and education. After completing the highly selective and prestigious program, Peace Corps alums often become leaders in their chosen fields, frequently related to public service and international affairs.