World travel always has been on the itinerary for Cayla Anderson ’18: From the ripe age of 2, she was carrying a homemade passport created with markers and crayons.
“I’ve always wanted to be international, even though I grew up in rural Ohio,” recalled Anderson, who is originally from Springfield, Ohio. In high school, Anderson put her passport to work, studying abroad in France her junior year and setting her sights on the Peace Corps when she got older.
With nearly 200 study abroad programs in more than 50 countries and a reputation for producing high numbers of Fulbright recipients and Peace Corps volunteers, Kenyon presented Anderson opportunities to help her achieve this goal. As she carved out her path toward a career in global service, she declared a double major in economics and international studies.
“Everything I do is internationally based, and you can’t really think about international studies without including economics,” she explained. “Economics is about how we help people develop and increase equality, which is something I’ve been passionate about since I could think independently.”
Her studies led her to consider off-campus study programs in Sri Lanka, a South Asian country with a complex economic history influenced by decades of civil war. During the process of exploring different programs, she met A. Ted Samuel ’05, resident director of the South India Term Abroad. Amid sharing their experiences with the Black Student Union, the two bonded over their love of South India, and Samuel encouraged Anderson to join the program. “A lot of why I studied abroad in Sri Lanka was because of him,” Anderson said.
Through an internship with the human rights organization People’s Watch and work in the U.S. Embassy of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Anderson translated her studies in Gambier into active service in Sri Lanka and around South India. Now, Anderson’s post-graduation plans involve adding Lesotho to her already crowded passport, teaching secondary math for the Peace Corps.
Anderson’s new position marks a milestone for Kenyon, as she will be the first student to graduate from the College’s new Peace Corp Prep program. The curriculum, which includes foreign language and intercultural coursework, training and leadership development, was developed to aid students like Anderson looking for careers in the world of global service.
According to Stephen Volz, associate professor of history and faculty advisor for the program, the goal is to “guide and support students through a course of study and off-campus experiences that will help prepare them for work as a Peace Corps volunteer as well as for other service-related and international careers.”
For Anderson, the strong ties between Kenyon alumni and the Peace Corps seem obvious: “There’s just such a big number of people on campus who do a lot of service in the community … so it makes a lot of sense why we have so many people join the Peace Corps, which combine the Kenyon passion for service with the Kenyon love of global engagement.”
— Anna Libertin ’18