Jane Leys ’22 among first Peace Corps volunteers to return to service overseas
Former Purple Knights women's lacrosse player plans to work in the agriculture sector in Guatemala
Saint.Michael’s College alumna Jane Leys is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020. The Peace Corps suspended global operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leys graduated in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and played varsity women’s lacrosse for the Purple Knights. She will serve as an agriculture volunteer in Guatemala.
“I grew up hearing stories of my dad’s adventures during his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana in the 1980s. I always knew that someday I wanted to join too,” said Leys. “I am looking forward to connecting with new people while learning about a new culture. I hope to grow my world view and understanding of people whose life is vastly different from my own upbringing in New England.”
Saint Michael’s College is one of the select few small liberal art colleges in the country with a Peace Corps Prep program, which is designed to prepare students through intercultural competency, familiarity with a foreign language, leadership development and a focus on sector-specific field knowledge and skills.
“Currently we have 17 students actively enrolled in the program, with a large group of first year students expressing interest following presentations and talks through our Purposeful Learning program,” said Allison Cleary, the Saint Michael’s Peace Corps Prep program director. “Nine seniors are expected to graduate with certificates this May. The program offers students a competitive edge for many types of global field work. While Jane was not in our Peace Corps Prep certificate program, this news of her recent assignment shows how the College prepares a student well and offers them a competitive advantage.”
The volunteer cohorts include both first-time volunteers and volunteers who evacuated in early 2020. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps’ six sectors – agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development – and all will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work.
Currently, the agency is recruiting volunteers to serve in 56 countries around the world at the request of host country governments, to connect through the Peace Corps’ grassroots approach across communities and cultures.
Volunteers have already returned to a total of 48 countries around the world. The Peace Corps continues to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and will send volunteers to serve as conditions permit. Americans interested in transformative service and lifelong connections should apply to Peace Corps service at www.peacecorps.gov/apply. Apply before April 1 to make a global connection by fall 2023.
About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.