Peace Corps Plans Take Shape for Trio of Seniors

Volunteer abroad and love doing it. Three St. Norbert graduates-to-be have accepted this challenge through their nominations to the Peace Corps. 

Under the guidance of Jeremy Doughty ’05 (International Education), a former Peace Corps volunteer himself, Kaylee Beck ’13, Jon Mallek ’13 and Ashley Hirsch ’13 are looking ahead as they prepare to serve across the globe.

The two women both expect to teach at their respective postings. Beck is headed to Malawi and Hirsch to Indochina.

Mallek will work in agriculture, in Senegal.

Passing the torch
All three students were advised by Doughty, a fitting match considering he went through the same application process just eight years earlier. Doughty’s choice to join the Peace Corps, however, was an unexpected one. 

Although a triple major in international studies, German and political science, come senior year Doughty wasn’t sure what he wanted to pursue. Opting out of a track in political advocacy, he jumped at the idea of being part of an organization like the Peace Corps that would allow him to engage in service abroad.

In December of 2004, Doughty applied to teach English as a second language in Nova Ushytsia, Ukraine. Spending nearly two and a half years abroad, Doughty remembers his experience as a remarkably positive one. Intentionally living in a small village with no other Peace Corps member stationed nearby, he made certain to challenge himself knowing that this opportunity would not come around again anytime soon.

Doughty encourages these graduates to do the same. Nudging them onward, he first conducted mock interviews with each student and then gave them all the practical advice a traveler can. Now, he says, it is up to these three to shape their experience into a time they will never forget.

Kaylee Beck ’13
After studying abroad in Lille, France, her junior year, Beck knew a larger international venture was in her future and the Peace Corps has offered her that chance.

A double major in international studies and French with a peace and justice minor, Beck attributes her success to her exploratory course load and internship at the Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice and Public Understanding

Accepting a nomination to teach in Africa, Beck will depart for training in mid-June. As an education volunteer, she will likely be teaching English, math, biology and physical science at the secondary level in rural Malawi. 

Jon Mallek ’13
Having grown up on a dairy farm in Junction City, Wis., Jon Mallek foresaw that his farming experience would be a boon to the Peace Corps. The choice to put those homegrown skills to use, however, was not necessarily an easy one. 

On the day Mallek received his invitation to become a volunteer, he was in Washington, D.C., for the presidential inauguration in the midst of visiting his top grad school pick, American University, with sights set on its international politics program. With seven days to accept or decline the Peace Corps, he signed up to be a volunteer. 

Although accepted to AUIP a few months later, Mallek notes that he has not regretted his decision to join the Peace Corps and is excited to start serving in September. He will work as a sustainable agricultural field agent, interacting with farmers in smaller villages to increase food production and promote sustainability in Senegal, Africa. 

Ashley Hirsch ’13
Like Beck and Mallek, Ashley Hirsch is no foreigner to travel. She studied abroad for two semesters in Durban, South Africa, and in Groningen, Netherlands. Adding Cambodia to her repertoire, Hirsch will teach English in this region of the Indochina Peninsula. 

Hirsch majors in political science and minors in English while also remaining involved in local politics. She has interned for campaigns at the Brown County Democratic Party and at Golden House in Green Bay. She is also president of Beyond Borders

Though the prospect of learning an entirely new alphabet in order to speak Khmer seems daunting, Hirsch remains enthusiastic about the newness of immersing herself in an unfamiliar culture and can take heart in knowing her peers will also be learning the local languages of their placements.

May 7, 2013