In a few short months Hiram’s Class of 2017 students will graduate, throw their caps into the air and complete their transition from students to alum. While some students may look forward to a few weeks of summer before they head to day jobs in their respective professional fields, Allison Glatt has a different path in mind.
In July, just a few weeks after her final days as an undergraduate student, Glatt will fly to South Africa to begin her service in the Peace Corps, teaching children in a primary school. Not including her three-month training session, Glatt will serve in this region for two years.
Glatt is one of three students who will graduate from Hiram’s Peace Corps Preparatory Program (PCPP) this year but the first of her class so far to be officially accepted into the Peace Corps. Glatt has been a part of the PCPP since its initiation during her 2014 sophomore year. According to the program’s director, Lisa Safford, Ph.D., professor of art history and the art department chair, Hiram was one of only eleven institutions nationwide to offer a preparatory program in 2014. Today, due to the success of the programs, that number has multiplied six-fold.
The PCPP helps interested students become competitive Peace Corps candidates by directing them toward interdisciplinary classes, experiential learning and networking opportunities. Since its creation of the Sugar Day community service program in 1856 and its first study-abroad course in 1937, Hiram has long since been the perfect platform for international studies and service-based learning.
Glatt, a sociology major with a minor in international studies, says that Hiram’s distinctive curriculum and PCPP-recommended courses helped her gain new perspectives on important world issues. As a part of her experiential learning, she was able to study in China during her junior year. According to Glatt, this three-week trip gave her the confidence and reassurance to apply for the Peace Corps.
Glatt adds that the networking aspect of the PCPP was most valuable to her.
“There’s only so much you can read online; it’s so useful to have one-on-one conversations and personal contact with people who have actually served in the Peace Corps,” she says. Through her participation in monthly program meetings, she met three different recruiters and talked to volunteers who served or are currently serving. Among them was 2016 Hiram graduate, Jacob Vaughan who is currently volunteering in China.
As Glatt discusses the rigorous coursework, intensive application process and challenges that she will ultimately face during her upcoming service in South Africa, it is clear that the Peace Corps is not for the weak of heart. But it is even more apparent that once she graduates from Hiram’s PCPP, Glatt will ready to face the challenges ahead.
“Allison is a very energized student who clearly knew that the Peace Corps was for her from the start. She has spent a lifetime engaged with her community and has a particular interest in helping families create small businesses and helping girls gain valuable skills and confidence,” Safford says of the future volunteer.
“I hope to gain more appreciation for other cultures and a better knowledge of my own culture and of myself. And I hope that the difference that I make, whether in the life of one child or in the community as a whole, is evident,” Glatt says.
For more information on Hiram’s Peace Corp, please visit http://www.hiram.edu/academics/center-of-distinction/center-for-global-interaction/peace-corps-preparatory-program/.