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From Pioneer to Peace Corps

Do you know what you will be doing after graduation? Senior Marketing major Katie Hickey does. On May 12, she will walk across the commencement stage to receive her diploma. On June 12, she will board a plane to begin a two-year program as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, Africa.

“One thing that I’ve always been really passionate about is traveling, and another thing I’ve always been really passionate about is helping people. Getting to combine both of those is basically like a dream come true,” says Hickey. She will undergo three months of training before serving for twenty-four months as a secondary English teacher. As a volunteer, Hickey hopes to aid in furthering the education of young girls. According to Hickey, many girls in Zambia do not reach the equivalent of eighth grade.

“There’s a Let Girls Learn initiative that Michelle Obama was a big part of, and Zambia is a country that’s involved…I’m really excited to be a part of that program…and to encourage girls to prove that they can do anything that the boys in their class can do,” Hickey explains, “It will definitely be difficult to find a balance between being respectful of the culture, but still encouraging these girls to push through and succeed in furthering their education.” Hickey says she also hopes to create an after school girl’s club as a secondary project: “to have a sense of community and talk about issues that they’re experiencing.”

Despite her volunteer goals and overall excitement, there are still a few unknowns on Hickey’s mind. Although she knows it the Peace Coprs will be sending her to Zambia, the village she will call home for two years will not be determined until after her initial training.

“Obviously it’s not going to be glamorous – I’m going to be living in a village without water and electricity for two years,” Hickey says, “I don’t know…what is going to be the closest place with internet access so I can talk with my family. I don’t know if that’s going to be a thirty-minute hike down the road, or if it’s going to have to be a three-hour bus ride down the road.”

However, Hickey said: “I’m more excited for the experience than I am worried about any of the other little details because I feel like they’ll work themselves out…It’ll definitely be out of my comfort zone, which I think is a good thing.”

Hickey’s interest in the Peace Corps was sparked by a trip she took to Belize back in 2009. “I’d definitely say it’s been my biggest influence,” Hickey says of the trip. “I saw what [Peace Corps volunteers] were doing down there and I was like ‘hey, this is something I want to do one day’…It’s been in the back of my mind since I was that young, and now the time has come.”

TWU has been an influence for Hickey as well. She says: “I definitely think that the diversity TWU embodies has really prepared me to better understand different cultures. TWU has given me the tools to dig deeper.”

TWU and The Lasso wish her well!

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