Study Abroad, Community Service Prepared McDermott for Peace Corp

By Purnell T. Cropper | November 30, 2010

For Alyssa McDermott ’10, community service and study abroad were influential components of her college career that inspired her to join the Peace Corp. McDermott, a Biology major, is now in Kenya preparing for a two-year assignment teaching secondary science to high school students in Lamu.

“Arcadia had everything to do with preparing me for the Peace Corp,” says McDermott. “I learned what it was like to be away from home and I saw how big the world is.” McDermott participated in the First Year Study Abroad Experience, spending a semester in Stirling, Scotland. She also spent her junior year in New Zealand, and, as a senior, she went on the International Experience to Dominica. It was in Stirling that McDermott started thinking about joining the Peace Corp.

“I met someone in Scotland who had taken a year off of school to work in an orphanage in Sri Lanka and the idea really stuck with me,” she says. When she wasn’t studying abroad, McDermott was actively involved with Arcadia’s Office of Community Service. She served as a Student Coordinator of Empty Bowl, attended the Alternative Spring Break trip to Tijuana, helped out with Dr. Seuss and Martin Luther King days and more. All of these experiences helped to prepare her for the Peace Corp.

“Kenya is a country unique to its own and its culture is extremely engaging,” says McDermott. “Through my past study abroad experiences, I was able to adapt easily to living with a family. They now call me their daughter. I look forward to teaching for the next two years in this world so unlike my own.”