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Fellows at a RPCV service event at Ronald McDonald House

About Us

Student Profiles

Learn about the Peace Corps from students who have volunteered overseas on behalf of the DU Peace Corps Community.

Find out where these students—within the Josef Korbel School of International Studies—have served, what they're doing now and how their experiences can inform your future ones.


Michael Casper

Service: The Gambia, 2000-2003

Degree: international development

What did you do as a volunteer?

I taught general science to grade 8 students. Immediately I saw a need for computer education and began working with the computer teacher at my school.

I also taught computing (basics like typing to intermediate Word and Excel) at the local YMCA, and later moved full time to the Gambian Education Department, where I worked on a geographical information system and management information system.

What are your academic areas of interest/future work plans?

Currently, I am focusing on rural agriculture development and humanitarian assistance, with an ultimate goal of working for USAID, the U.N. or Catholic Relief Services.


Graham Button

Service: Cameroon, projected 2012-2014 (Master's International)

Degree: international development, certificate in humanitarian assistance

What will you do as a volunteer?

Youth development. As a Master's International student, that's all I know at this point.

What are your academic areas of interest/future work plans?

I am interested in human rights and education in conflict and post-conflict environments.


Michael Smith

Service: Panama, 2009-2011

Degree: international human rights, certificate in humanitarian assistance

What did you do as a volunteer?

My main project was focused on youth development, where I ran after-school classes and activities for the youth in my town. I also worked on building up eco-tourism infrastructures, assisted in the coordination of a humanitarian mission with the U.S. military and even managed to teach a little English.

What are your academic areas of interest/future work plans?

I am focusing my studies on the Horn of Africa and the humanitarian situations occurring there. After graduating, I hope to work on improving gender-based violence prevention measures in the region as well as post-incident care.


Victoria Neff

Service: China, 2009-2011

Degree: international development

What did you do as a volunteer?

I taught English to undergraduate English majors and post-graduate medical students at a medical university in Southwestern China (Guizhou Province). Although my primary assignment as a "U.S.-China Friendship Volunteer" was education, I spent a great deal of my service on environmental awareness and advocacy projects.

Some of my projects include: a sustainable ecology leadership camp, which was held at the Woolong Panda Reserve; a nationwide English environmental education curriculum for teachers at the graduate and undergraduate levels; and an Earth Day teacher training competition.

What are your academic areas of interest/future work plans?

My course load at Korbel thus far has been quantitative-heavy, which I did not anticipate as my interests are in environmental conservation and sustainability. Who would have guessed that I would enjoy my statistics and financial management classes?! Certainly a surprise to me.

That being said, I am really interested in gaining more skills in project management and specifically, how organizations and projects can improve environmental and economic sustainability. I am also hoping to get some skills in the research end of environmental development (e.g., data collection and analysis). An ideal job would be working with a company or organizations (either for-profit or nonprofit) to improve sustainability and their impact/footprint on the environment.


Brian Ernst

Service: Madagascar, 2008-2011*

Degree: international security

What did you do as a volunteer?

I was an education volunteer, so I worked in the schools of Madagascar. Because of external events, I spent a year teaching at the primary school level, a year at the middle school level and a year at the high school level. I primarily worked in the classroom but also conducted teacher training. In my final 6 months, I worked on curriculum development. My favorite word in Malagasy is mikitikitika (to touch).

What is your academic area of interest/future work plans?

My academic area of interest is in post-conflict societies and in democratization challenges. I focus primarily on Central and Southern Africa. Hopefully, I will have a career in democracy development, through USAID or at a nonprofit with a similar focus.

*For most of 2009, Peace Corps Madagascar was closed due to political unrest.