Peace Corps Prep Program Leads to Service for Four UArizona Seniors

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Eliana Carrera, Megan Irby, Gracie Krigbaum and Joyce Wang felt prepared to apply to the Peace Corps after participating in the Peace Corps Prep certificate program—a program that provides students with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to serve in the U.S. Peace Corps.

University of Arizona seniors Eliana Carrera, Megan Irby, Gracie Krigbaum and Joyce Wang have received invitations to serve in the Peace Corps following graduation this spring. All four students agree the Peace Corps Prep program helped them learn more about their goals and how to pursue them, and helped to alleviate a lot of the stress associated with applying to an organization with such a highly selective acceptance rate.

Housed in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS), Peace Corps Prep is an undergraduate program that gives students a competitive edge when applying to the Peace Corps. By joining the program, undergraduates from any major can take advantage of courses, volunteer experiences and mentoring to increase their chances of being accepted.

Additionally, “this program supports the University’s strategic plan priorities of globalization, diversity and inclusion, community engagement and student success,” said Director of International Initiatives for CALS, Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons.

Eliana Carrera

Latin American Studies and Global Studies Major

Spanish and Business Administration Minors

Eliana will be serving as a Youth Development Facilitator in Peru. She believes her UArizona study abroad experience in Guatemala enhanced her Peace Corps application and inspired her to serve.

Q: Can you describe your study abroad experience and how it allowed you to integrate concepts from the classroom into real-life?

A: I love what I study at the U of A! Through both my studies and my study abroad experience, I have learned so much about the diverse communities throughout Latin America and the important human rights issues that have taken place across the region. While studying abroad in Guatemala, I was able to develop my Spanish speaking skills and intern at a school for at-risk youth called Los Patojos. Later, I was fortunate enough to return to Guatemala where I studied one of the country’s indigenous languages called Kaqchikel.

Megan Irby

Mathematics and Molecular and Cellular Biology Majors

Megan will be serving as a maternal/child HIV/AIDS educator in Zambia. She is hoping her Peace Corps experience will give her the opportunity to not only make a broader impact, but also to learn about a new culture and better herself as a person.

Q: What are you most looking forward to as a Peace Corps Volunteer? Are you worried about anything?

A: In addition to learning a lot about Zambian culture, music and traditions, I hope to learn more about the issues they face and, in the process, learn more about myself. I am looking forward to living in a country I have never visited before, but I am actually a little apprehensive about not being able to contact my friends and family readily. I also expect I will be the only English speaker around, and that sounds slightly uncomfortable but, overall, I am excited to be embarking on this amazing opportunity!

Gracie Krigbaum

Physiology Major

Spanish, Public Health, Psychology and Biochemistry Minors

Gracie will be serving as a Community Health Facilitator in Peru. Involved with volunteer service from a young age, she built upon her passion to help others while at UArizona.

Q: Why do you want to join the Peace Corps? When did you first start thinking about joining?

A: I want to join the Peace Corps because I have always been passionate about helping others. Volunteer service has been a huge part of my life from a young age, and I am excited to get the opportunity to make a long-term impact rather than just committing a few hours per week. In the Peace Corps, I will have the opportunity to apply the skills I have learned in college, along with my work experiences, to help others. I first started thinking about joining during my freshman year at U of A, after hearing a short presentation about the Peace Corps at a club meeting. Prior to that presentation, I had planned on going straight to medical school after graduation. However, after hearing about what the Peace Corps had to offer, my academic advisor helped me figure out how to make Peace Corps work with my graduate school applications.

Joyce Wang

Computer Science Major

Environmental Science and Chinese Language Minors

Joyce will be serving in Benin as a sustainable agricultural systems agent. While at UArizona, she realized that having longer-term experiences, whether abroad or at home, would help her develop the skills to be a successful Peace Corps volunteer.

Q: Can you describe your volunteer work and extracurricular activities during your time at UArizona?

A: Having longer term experiences, rather than just doing something for a few days or weeks, helped me learn to immerse into new cultures. The experience that relates most to Peace Corps was when I volunteered on a permaculture farm in Slovenia through WWOOF (Working Worldwide on Organic Farms) for two months. I was able to both travel and work in sustainable agriculture. I also gained multicultural/foreign language experience through studying abroad in Shanghai, China, where I lived for two months. In Tucson, I worked at Compost Cats, where I was able to teach and work with kids and the local community, learn how to operate heavy machinery and other agricultural skills, and gain an introduction to business management.

Read their full stories here.

Extra Info
Extra Info

The Peace Corps is a volunteer program administered by the U.S. government to send Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. UArizona ranks in the top 20 among large schools on the Peace Corps list of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. Over 1,600 graduates have volunteered, with 47 alumni currently serving. (Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Peace Corps volunteers have returned to the United States, with hopes of continuing service later this year.)

Students interested in learning more about the Peace Corps Prep program should contact Program Coordinator, Tammy Orr. Additionally, students interested in exploring Peace Corps opportunities in agriculture, can join Campus Recruiter, Hannah Martin, for a virtual info session on Tuesday, April 28th, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. Click here to register in advance for this zoom meeting.