September 15, 2002 - Lincoln Journal Star: Lincoln resident uproots for Peace Corps, Ghana

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Lincoln resident uproots for Peace Corps, Ghana

Read and comment on this story from the Lincoln Journal Star about 43 year old Randy White shown in the photo above who soon board a plane to western Africa to work on small-enterprise development in Ghana at:

Lincoln resident uproots for Peace Corps, Ghana*

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Lincoln resident uproots for Peace Corps, Ghana

BY GWEN TIETGEN / Lincoln Journal Star

Marcia White needed a change.

In October, White, 43, resigned from her 13-year job, started looking for jobs on the East Coast and toyed with the idea of leaving the country.

But White wanted an even bigger change.

Then, one day in early November, a story on National Public Radio got her heart pumping. A 55-year-old woman told how her life had changed after joining the Peace Corps.

The woman's story stayed etched in White's memory as she checked Peace Corps recruiting events on the Internet. Recruiters were going to be visiting the university campus the next day.

By January, White had made up her mind and mailed her application. In May she found out she was going to the Peace Corps.

White, who is not married and has no children, said she looked at her life and realized, "Ihave an incredible amount of freedom, which is not something a lot of people can say at my age."

A native of Bridgeport, White's lived in Lincoln for about 25 years. Tuesday she will leave her cozy downtown apartment, Nebraska roots (she's never lived outside of the state) to become a Peace Corps volunteer.

After two days of training in Pennsylvania, she'll board a plane to western Africa. There she'll work on small-enterprise development in Ghana.

But where exactly in Ghana she'll be and what exactly she'll be doing, White won't know until she arrives.

"This way, Ican be more open to whatever comes my way," she said.

Carol Jess of Lincoln, a friend of 20-plus years, admires White's courage.

"She's a mission-driven person who does things because her heart is in them," Jess said.

White's missions have driven her all over Lincoln -- as a university student, an adjunct professor at Doane College, a member of the downtown Rotary Club, a Leadership Lincoln alumnae and vice president of community relations for the Foundation for Educational Funding.

This time the commitment is at least two years in a country more than 6,000 miles away.

Her goal?

"I would hope that they (the people of Ghana) were glad that I'd come and thought it was a better place because I had been there," White said.

The mission -- and challenge -- match.

"One of my favorite things in the world is learning," she said.

"With this, it's not just learning a new job, it's learning a new culture."

Included in the learning of a new culture might be living without "the things that make life easy," White said, such as running water, electricity and a phone.

"I'm sure it'll probably be more of an adjustment than I could ever prepare myself for."

White can handle it. She's what her only sister, Cindy Cerny, calls "intense."

"She's very motivated," Cerny said. "Once she decides something, she has a very clear vision of things. She knows what needs to be done and gets it done."

Cerny said that although she'll miss her sister, she's also excited for her.

"I'm just really glad there's e-mail now," Cerny said.

Reach Gwen Tietgen at 473-7120 or

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