Baylor Grad Joins Alumni, Faculty In Peace Corps Involvement

Sept. 9, 2004

by Sara D. Spain, Student Newswriter

In 1960, John F. Kennedy challenged University of Michigan students to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. And from that idea, the Peace Corps was born.

Baylor graduates have been part of the volunteer organization since that time. Evita Lopez, a 2004 Baylor graduate, is one of the newest recruits and will live in El Salvador for the next 27 months, where she will be involved in an agroforestry/environmental education program.

Lopez has known that she wanted to enter the Peace Corps since she was a sophomore in high school, when her English teacher set her up with a Peace Corps pen pal. While at Baylor, Lopez was involved in such service organizations as the Magellan Society and Habitat for Humanity, so she felt that "joining the Peace Corps was a natural next step."

During Lopez's stay in El Salvador, she hopes to "make life a little easier or enjoyable for a fellow human being. I want my skills to aid another human's life for the benefit of humanity, not profit." After serving her time in the Peace Corps, Lopez plans to attend graduate school and study medicinal chemistry.

Applying to the Peace Corps is a long process. Education, work and volunteer experience are just several of the items considered. Applicants must also exhibit leadership and organizational skills, along with community involvement. While many people apply to make a difference in the world by sharing their gifts with the less fortunate, there is also something that can be gained in return.

"In today's job market, having international experience makes you more competitive. You have shown that you are able to adapt to change, work within another culture, and work with limited resources," said Annaliese Limb, a Peace Corps recruiter.

Since 1961, 115 Baylor graduates have joined the Peace Corps, and today 12 Baylor alumni serve in 10 countries. The oldest Baylor graduate serving in the Peace Corps is 62. Baylor ranks fourth in producing Peace Corps volunteers, with the University of Texas leading the pack with 108 volunteers.

"I have received a tremendous reception from Baylor faculty, staff and students, and I am always impressed with the caliber of the Baylor student, particularly in the area of community involvement and service to others," said Limb.

Involvement in the Peace Corps is not limited to Baylor students and recent graduates. Political Science professor Gayle Avant has been a longtime recruiter on the Baylor campus. Last spring, Avant was awarded a certificate of appreciation for his commitment to the Peace Corps by the Southwest Recruitment Region. Cindy Sutter-Tkel, a faculty member in the School of Social Work, has introduced the Peace Corps to her department and is a resource for interested students.

"We're one of the top employment sources for recent graduates. In 2005, we're looking to fill more than 4,500 assignments," said Jesus Garcia, Peace Corps public affairs specialist.

For more information contact Garcia at (214) 253-5418, or jgarcia2@peacecorps.gov.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?