Franceine Welcome ’19 awarded Gilliam Fellowship
With 16 alumni currently serving, Connecticut College ranks No. 15 on the Peace Corps' annual rankings of top small schools producing volunteers.
The College's mission of educating global citizens and emphasis on community service has inspired more than 200 alumni to volunteer for the Peace Corps since its founding in 1961.
"Connecticut College students graduate with a strong sense of community and a deep appreciation for the world's many cultures," Connecticut College President Leo I. Higdon Jr. said. "They are well prepared to serve the Peace Corps in their mission of promoting peace and friendship. Having served for two years myself, I am very proud of those who make this important commitment."
Meghan Brown '09, a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English to children in Ukraine, said her experiences at Connecticut College inspired her to join.
"Two of the major determining factors in my choice to attend Connecticut College were the excellent study abroad programs and the funded internship program. I took full advantage of both and they led me to where I am today," she said.
Jonathan McLean '08, who is currently serving as a computer teacher for the Kenyan National Youth Service in Mombasa, said the leadership opportunities he had at the College prepared him for Peace Corps service.
"Leadership positions teach you to be diplomatic while still getting things done, which is critical to life in the Peace Corps," McLean said. "I knew it would certainly be a non-traditional two years, but that Peace Corps service would help me in so many ways later in life."
While many volunteers chose to serve soon after graduation, Lanna Semel '05, who served in the Federated States of Micronesia from 2005-2007, said she encourages others to join regardless of age. "A lot of people I have talked to about my experience have told me that they once thought about joining but never did. My only advice is to do it - any time is the right time to join," she said. "Their motto is correct; it was the toughest job I've ever loved. I not only felt like I was making a difference helping others, but the personal growth I experienced was like nothing I ever imagined."
Higdon, who joined the Peace Corps with his wife, Ann, after completing his bachelor's degree in 1968, often discusses his experience teaching in Malawi, Africa, with current students and encourages them to consider serving, either in the Peace Corps or through other service organizations.
"The Peace Corps developed in me a greater sensitivity to people," Higdon said. "Looking back, I can tell you that my liberal arts degree gave me a foundation for success, my MBA gave me specific skills and the Peace Corps gave me soul."