Graduates redirect career goals to Peace Corps

With spring semester comes applications, applications and more applications. Undergraduate students are attending informational sessions and major career fairs. Resumes are being critiqued, and cover letters are being polished.

While many undergraduate students are looking for summer internships, graduating seniors are fighting through the last frontier of college. They must get a job. They need that job. A job. Any job.

The process is exhausting and daunting. However, the time is near to beat out the competition and get the dream job. Upon graduation, all Tech students are looking for a way to utilize the skills they’ve learned for a purpose they believe in, like, accept and, most importantly, love.

This is why 22 undergraduate alumni chose the Peace Corps as their dream job. Their contribution, along with grad school alumnus, brought Tech to the Peace Corps Top University and College Rankings for the third consecutive year.

Overall, this year, Tech ranks 24th nationwide, and in the Southeast Division, Tech is 10th out of 250 schools.

One undergraduate student currently serving in the Peace Corps is Jing Li, ISyE ‘10.

From her internship at the Office of Policy Research and Analysis (OPAR) in the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), Li found her inspiration to serve in the experiences and stories shared by Marlit Hayslett, OPAR director. Li also based her decision on her study abroad summer trip with the Tech ISyE program in China and Singapore.

Though she applied to other engineering jobs in logistics and supply chains, Li finally chose the Peace Corps after working on her senior design project. Through her supply chain optimization project with the World Food Programme (WFP), Li knew this experience could be combined with her passion to help people’s lives around the world.

She now serves in a small town called Shevchenkove, located on the eastern side of Ukraine, where she teaches English to students in a wide range of grades.

Along with teaching at the lyceum, which are secondary schools focusing on math and science, Li helps in English clubs to educate her students in a variety of topics, including healthy lifestyles, environmental awareness and creative writing. She also helps with HIV/AIDS awareness education and creative art lessons in music and dance.

“Working as a Peace Corps Volunteer here in Ukraine has taught me the value of patience, and reaffirmed the belief that anything is possible if you are determined enough to follow through with it tenaciously,” Li said.

This is confirmed through the Peace Corps experiences of Anthony Giarrusso, a research scientist in the College of Architecture.

Giarrusso worked with the Peace Corps for a total of three and a half years in the mid-1990s before completing grad school at Tech in 2000.

Even though he completed his undergraduate degree elsewhere, Giarrusso has relayed his rewarding experience with the Peace Corps to Tech students throughout his time here.

As a research scientist at the Center for Geographic Information Systems for Tech, he worked as a fisheries extension agent in Burundi, Gabon and Zambia, where there is no running water, electricity or privacy.

He chose the Peace Corps because he believed it would help him focus and he left with a broader, enlightened experience about the world and the common factors of humanity.

“It has made me realize that we are all more similar than we think. Mothers in Gabon experience the same issues as mothers in the US,” Giarrusso said.


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