April 28, 2000 - Purdue University: Purdue's first Peace Corps master's graduate ready to ship to Guatemala

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: Peace Corps in Guatemala: April 28, 2000 - Purdue University: Purdue's first Peace Corps master's graduate ready to ship to Guatemala

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Purdue's first Peace Corps master's graduate ready to ship to Guatemala

Purdue's first Peace Corps master's graduate ready to ship to Guatemala

Purdue's first Peace Corps master's graduate ready to ship out

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The first graduate of the Purdue University School of Agriculture's Peace Corps master's program will soon begin her "tour of duty." Megan Taylor says she feels like she's been preparing for the "go anywhere, do anything" lifestyle of the Peace Corps all her life.

Born to a military family in Kentucky, Taylor attended 10 different schools in 12 years, including stints in Germany and Panama. On Sept. 18, the Peace Corps will ship Taylor to Guatemala for two years as an integrated pest management specialist.

Taylor has been working on her Peace Corps master's degree since earning her bachelor's degree in wildlife sciences in 1998. Her family currently lives in Indianapolis , and she will graduate during ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 13, on the West Lafayette campus.

Taylor lived in Panama between the ages of 9 and 12. "I just love Central America," she says. "The music, the culture, its people, everything about it appeals to me.

"All through high school and even in college, I always thought I would get a job and move back down to Central America to work. I speak the language and I know how to get around down there. I just didn't know how it was all going to work."

The School of Agriculture's study abroad program provided the answer.

As an undergraduate, Taylor minored in international programs in agriculture. On two occasions -- in 1996 and 1997 -- she spent 10 weeks at Purdue's sister school at Zamorano, Honduras, where she helped farmers build silos, terrace farmland and make adobe stoves.

"It was perfect for me," she says. "It allowed me to go back to Central America and see if it was where I wanted to be. If it didn't work out, I knew I could return to the states. It was a tour of duty, just like being in the military again."

Purdue's Peace Corps master's program was started to provide students a chance to gain more international experience and to provide the Peace Corps with volunteers who have expertise that is difficult to find in first-time college graduates, according to David Sammons, director of international programs in agriculture for the university. "The program is housed in the entomology department to train students in Extension crop protection, which is a 'scarce skill area' as determined by the Peace Corps," he says.

Students who sign up for the program agree to serve two years in the Peace Corps, sometimes as a way of satisfying part of their master's degree requirements. That was not the case for Taylor, who will have her degree in hand before she heads overseas.

Being the first student to participate in the master's program has placed some added pressure on Taylor. But she says that has only made her more eager to get started. "I was the first to participate in the Peace Corps shadow program (following a volunteer in the field for 10 days), so I'm used to being a guinea pig," she says.

The Purdue name itself has put some pressure on Taylor, too.

"If I don't really do something exciting, I'm going to feel bad about it," Taylor admits. "After all, this is Purdue University, not some podunk college."

Persons wanting to learn more about the Peace Corps master's program should contact Sammons at (765) 494-8466.

Writer: Tom Campbell, (765) 494-8084; tc@aes.purdue.edu

Sources: Megan Taylor, (765) 463-9654, megan_taylor@entm.purdue.edu

David Sammons, (765) 494-8466


World travel is nothing new to Megan Taylor, a pest management specialist and the first person to graduate from Purdue's Peace Corps master's program. Taylor will head to Guatemala in September for her first two-year Peace Corps assignment. (Purdue Ag Communications Photo by Tom Campbell)

A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Taylor.grad

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guatemala; Special Interests - Fellowships



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