By Hannah Jerdonek, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and ASU Coverdell Fellow
When I joined the Peace Corps in February 2017 as a Health Extension Volunteer in Tanzania, I had no idea how much my experience would impact my career goals. I had just graduated with my Bachelor’s in Chemistry and thought that Peace Corps would be a good way to give while gaining experience to work in the medical or public health field upon my return to the states. Little did I know how much my time in Tanzania would change the course of my career and the rest of my life.
From 2017-2019, I lived in a small, rural farming community in the Tanga region of Northern Tanzania. To make meaningful change in my community, I made sure that the projects I was doing through Peace Corps aligned with the interests of my community and had sufficient buy in. Naturally, my community had a strong interest in agricultural projects, and I began to develop the scope for my service with this in mind. During my two years, I worked with the local community to install a clean water system throughout the village, built 400 household permagardens for increased nutrition, and assembled a small-business development group to bring in additional income through beekeeping. The projects I worked on served as catalysts that would eventually drive me to pursue my MBA. I fell in love with managing meaningful projects and leading teams of individuals motivated to make a positive change.
My time in the Peace Corps taught me so much about what I want in a future career. I learned that the ability to develop close personal relationships with others, work as a team towards a common goal, and manage meaningful projects are all things that really excite me. In my time as a Coverdell fellow at ASU, I’ve had the opportunity to bring the needs-based and human-centered approach I learned in Peace Corps to an American setting with my internship with the Welcome to America Project and W.P. Carey’s PABCo Pro-bono Consulting Group. Upon graduating with my MBA this spring, I am excited for the opportunity to bring the same impact driven mindset and focus on people to my next endeavor.
To learn more about the Peace Corps, click here.