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College earns spot on Peace Corps' top colleges list

Alissa Wantman '07 and friends in Ethiopia, where she is helping single mothers develop small businesses.
Alissa Wantman '07 and friends in Ethiopia, where she is helping single mothers develop small businesses.

With 18 alumni currently serving, Connecticut College ranks No. 13 on the Peace Corps' newly released annual list of top volunteer-producing small colleges and universities.

The College's mission of educating global citizens and emphasis on community service has inspired 211 Connecticut College alumni to volunteer for the Peace Corps since its founding in 1961.

They include Alissa Wantman '07, who is serving in Gore, Ethiopia, and was attracted to the Peace Corps for its mission of sustainable development.

"We don't simply pour money into poverty-stricken communities," she said. "We take our time -- 27 months to be exact -- and thoroughly assess community needs before undertaking any projects."

Wantman, who has been in Ethiopia since October 2009, is helping single mothers and orphans develop small businesses, including a poultry farm and a local Internet cafĂ©. She also has found time to host life skills workshops for youth, spearhead voluntary HIV/AIDS testing campaigns in rural areas, lead a summer camp for girls and teach English at a local high school.

"Most of my work in Ethiopia has been focused on designing, building and managing small business activities. I've had to lean heavily on the fundamental business, finance and management skills I learned as an economics major at CC," Wantman said.

Lanna Semel '05, who served in the Federated States of Micronesia from 2005-07, encourages others to join regardless of age.

"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."

President Lee 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.

Lori Schippers '08, who spent the last two years teaching math in a middle school in Namibia, will share her Peace Corps experience with the campus community Friday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. in the Blaustein Humanities Center Faculty Lounge. Also visiting campus is Michael Buckler, who left his law firm to become a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Malawi. He will give a talk, "From Microsoft to Malawi: Learning on the Front Lines as a Peace Corps Volunteer," Friday, April 15, at 3 p.m. in Blaustein Humanities Center Room 210.



February 9, 2011