When Graham Leggat ’17 graduated from high school, he used the money he had saved from a variety of part-time and summer jobs to travel on his own to Denmark to explore the country. The logistics of the trip did not daunt him. “I’m adaptable and comfortable with being independent,” he says. That love of travel will serve him well when he journeys to Namibia in August for a two-year assignment with the Peace Corps.
A physics major with a minor in French and Francophone studies, Leggat will teach English to secondary school children after undergoing pre-service training. At HWS, Leggat served as a Physics Teaching Fellow and was a dean’s list student. He spent a semester at the Université Rennes 2 in France, and credits the experience with inspiring him to pursue an assignment in the Peace Corps.
“Being in France made me realize how much else there is out there in the world and more importantly, that I did not want to live my entire life in America,” he says.
Leggat was also influenced by a course in Tibetan Buddhism with Instructor of Asian Studies Tenzin Yignyen, an ordained Buddhist monk. “Tenzin helped me to see the value of compassion and sparked my desire to help others,” says Leggat. “Having the option to take classes outside of my major, like Tibetan Buddhism, helped me develop a well-rounded education that will serve me well wherever I go.”
Leggat has previously served as a volunteer at Camp Healing Hearts in Syracuse, for children who have experienced the death of a loved one, and he was a member of the HWS Colleges’ Chorale and the Hobartones, an a cappella singing group, of which he served as president. “I don’t know how some of these new challenges as a Peace Corps volunteer might affect me,” he says. “But I do know that I can overcome them if I prepare myself and expect to be surprised.”
The Colleges rank fourth among small schools on the Peace Corps’ newly published 2017 list of Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, 219 alums from HWS have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers, including 12 alums currently volunteering.