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December 6, 2007
University of Nevada, Reno alumna Erin Aldrich wants a new challenge.
"I've been in school my whole life, it seems, and now that I am finally done I can do something completely different," she says.
Fellow alum Candee Ramos loves traveling, is ready to see what lies beyond the country's borders and wants to help other people.
"This is a fork in the road because I don't know what's going to happen when I get back," Ramos says of her newest adventure. "I'm not sure how this trip will affect my life."
What's the common thread? Aldrich and Ramos are setting out to become a part of another community. Both women have volunteered and committed two years of their lives to the Peace Corps, which is taking them to other parts of the world.
Aldrich graduated in 2006 with a dual degree in information systems and geography. She will be going to Romania early next year to teach 10- to 25-year-olds methods for conserving the local environment. Aldrich wants to help clean up the country's rivers by teaching youth and young adults about the proper ways to dispose of trash.
"It's still school in the way that I will still be learning," says Aldrich, a 26-year-old working as a research associate for the University's Department of Geography.
Ramos, a 2002 journalism graduate, works as a marketing professional. She will be going to Guinea in West Africa this month to advise the community on small enterprise development. Ramos, 28, wants to help people earn money so they can feed their families and become self-reliant.
The Peace Corp was founded in 1960 by President Kennedy. He challenged a group of students at the University of Michigan to help the cause of peace by working in developing countries. Aldrich and Ramos are continuing this vision.
Both Aldrich and Ramos say their first year across the Atlantic Ocean will be spent assimilating to their community's needs. They aren't going to tell the community what it needs. Both women agreed that they believe it is not a matter of changing the world as a whole, rather, it is a matter of changing person by person.
For Aldrich, her credo has become the following: "Teaching individuals to improve the community, and piece-by–piece, the community will change. Slowly, the region will begin to change, too."
For Ramos, she says the potential Peace Corps experience means, "Changing someone's life; helping them make the leap from poverty to being able to feed their family. That's life-changing for the person and for me."