"I decided that the Peace Corps was right for me because I knew I wanted to engage in volunteer work after college with a global focus and a strong cross-cultural element," Wooley said.
The Peace Corps is an agency of the US government dedicated to promoting international peace. According to its website, more than 200,000 Peace Corps volunteers have lived and worked in 139 host countries since 1961. Wooley said she appreciates the agency's methods because it responds to requests for aid, "rather than imposing unneeded assistance." She said this allows for sustainable, positive change in the host country.
"It focuses on strengthening the host country by providing American men and women as volunteers who pledge to work closely with host country nationals, transfer practical skills and thereby develop trained men and women within the country," Wooley said.
"I feel confident that the critical thinking skills that were developed through a wide range of classes in the core curriculum will help me identify needs within my community and come up with innovative means to address those needs."
As an instructor in one of only two Peace Corps deaf education programs, Wooley is responsible for guiding her students through the academic standards, as well as HIV/AIDS education and intervention—all in Kenyan Sign Language, a form of communication she had not studied prior to beginning her Peace Corps training. She chronicles the joys and challenges of her work in a blog titled "Upendo," which is the Kenyan word for love.
Wooley lives on a local family compound and is provided a small stipend by the Peace Corps for living expenses. She said that being a member of USD's service-centered community inspired her to forsake a salaried position and donate her time to the betterment of the Kenyan people.
"I developed a holistic worldview [at USD] that sparked interest in social issues locally and globally," Wooley said.
She also credits her liberal arts education with providing the tools necessary to make her service successful.
"I feel confident that the critical thinking skills that were developed through a wide range of classes in the core curriculum will help me identify needs within my community and come up with innovative means to address those needs," Wooley said.
When she completes her Peace Corps volunteer work in 2012, Wooley hopes to pursue a career that will allow her to assist under-served communities.
"My current goal is to attend medical school upon my return to the United States and focus on physical and mental health issues in the rural villages of my home state, Alaska, " she said.
- Anne Malinoski '11