Eliss Mañon ’14 has recently begun her service as a youth development volunteer with the Peace Corps in Peru. She embarked this summer on a two-year commitment to the preeminent international service organization, along with Tess M. O’Leary ’14, who is serving as a youth development volunteer in the Dominican Republic; Elizabeth C. Lunderman ’16, who is serving as a science teacher in Tanzania; and Thomas A. Ramage ’16, who is teaching English in rural China.
“Hobart and William Smith are proud that these four accomplished members of our community now number among the many impressive, service-minded graduates who have joined the Peace Corps,” says President Mark D. Gearan, who served as director of the Peace Corps from 1995 to 1999. “The Colleges’ commitment to civic duty is evident in their decisions to serve.”
As a first-generation American, Mañon says she has developed a “passion to give back to a community and remind the members of the community that they aren’t alone.”
She recalls learning about the origin of the Peace Corps and President John F. Kennedy’s intent “to give Americans the opportunity to help alleviate the suffering in poor communities around the world,” she says. “He wanted to motivate Americans to be more involved in public service.”
As she grew up, Mañon was involved in monthly community service and volunteer projects through her church’s youth group, spending time at soup kitchens and NGOs, reading to children, and visiting senior citizens. “It made me elated to help individuals and to witness the impact that our presence had on them,” she explains.
During high school, Mañon and the youth group traveled on service trips to rural areas in Mexico and Jamaica, and during her first year at HWS, she had the opportunity to meet Aaron Williams, then-Peace Corps Director, who delivered that year’s Convocation address. At HWS she majored in Africana Studies and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. She is a past recipient of the Hellstrom Family Scholarship.
“Throughout my journey at HWS I wanted to continue to do what I love and devote some of my time to the community of Geneva,” says Mañon, who was a member of Latin American Organization, the Boys & Girls Club and the HWS Day of Service. Between extracurricular volunteering and coursework that often included service components, Mañon developed deep bonds with the community that now serve as a firm grounding for her Peace Corps service.
“I know if I follow in these footsteps I’ll be able to accomplish many amazing things in my time at the Peace Corps as I have in my time at HWS,” she says.