WWU Environmental Studies alumna Ava Michael ('18) of Coupeville has been accepted into the Peace Corps in The Gambia and will depart Oct. 7 to begin training as an agroforestry volunteer.
“This is an incredible opportunity to work with people I might never otherwise be able to,” said Michael of her desire to join the Peace Corps.
Prior to joining the Peace Corps, she interned at WWU as a mountain-goat monitor and acted as an environmental education intern at Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.
The Peace Corps seeks additional applicants to fill hundreds of requests for volunteers in programs worldwide beginning in spring 2020. Peace Corps volunteers live and work for 27-month terms of service in more than 60 nations, and receive a living stipend, extensive language and technical training, and financial benefits including eligibility for student loan forgiveness and graduate school fellowships after service. Open positions with an Oct. 1 application deadline are available in the fields of education, health, agriculture, community economic development, youth in development, and the environment.
There are 32 WWU alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers, and more than 1,109 alumni have served since Peace Corps was founded in 1961. The school ranked No. 5 among medium-sized colleges and universities on the agency’s 2019 list of top volunteer-producing schools list.
Peace Corps applicants have the option of choosing to serve where the need for their skills is greatest, or applying directly to open programs in specific countries and regions. Accepted applicants live with host families and receive three months of training before being assigned to a community in their country of service.
Michael will work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in The Gambia and help Michael develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge when she returns home. Peace Corps volunteers return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
“I look forward to broadening my understanding of the world,” Michael said.