Photo from www.peacecorpsnortheast.com
By Wenhao Ma
Stony Brook University has named Helen Jolly, a doctoral student and former Peace Corps volunteer, the University’s Peace Corps recruitment officer.
This appointment makes Stony Brook the first campus in SUNY system to hire a Peace Corps recruiter, whose mission is to promote the Peace Corps among student body and raise the number of applicants.
Before the appointment, the Peace Corps used to be represented at Stony Brook by its Northeast office, which covers nine states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The approval of the part-time position came after Marianna Savoca, the director of the Career Center, wrote a grant to the office.
“We have worked with the Peace Corps recruitment office in New York City for more than 10 years and when we learned that a request for proposal was being issued to potentially fund a recruiter to work right here on campus, we jumped at the opportunity,” Savoca said.
The move is one that could benefit both Stony Brook University and the Peace Corps organization.
“Having a Peace Corps recruiter on the Stony Brook University campus allows for the Peace Corps experience to become even more accessible to students interested in serving overseas,” one spokesperson from the Northeast office, who did not want their name to be used because of the Peace Corps policy, said.
“Stony Brook students will now have the opportunity to gain sharp insight into Peace Corps service on a regular basis from a returned volunteer after living through that experience.”
Jolly said that landing the job was “serendipitous,” according to SBU Happenings. She got the link to the job from a friend, applied and secured the position in two weeks.
Jolly joined the Peace Corps in September 2003, serving as a volunteer in Guatemala specializing in food security and agriculture. While overseas, she worked with women’s groups to teach veterinary medicine including vaccinations, nutrition, parasite prevention and simple treatments for common illnesses and injuries.
During her years in Guatemala, Jolly did not only help the locals but also gained from the community she lived in.
“Living in Guatemala, my eyes were opened to the many things I took for granted while growing up with drinkable water from the faucet and electricity at all times,” she said, according to the Peace Corps North-East Office. “I am forever grateful to the people who welcomed me into their lives at every stage of the Peace Corps process, including my host family during training, the people in my first site and the women I worked with in my community.”
In 2006, one year after she finished her serving time with the Corps, Jolly attended Stony Brook University as a graduate student. Three years later, she earned her Master of Arts in anthropology. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D in sociology.
According to the Peace Corps, six undergraduate alumni from Stony Brook are now serving as its volunteers. Two hundred Stony Brook alumni have joined the Peace Corps since the agency was founded in 1961.
Jolly’s office hours are 10 a.m. to noon every Monday, or by appointment, at the Career Center in the Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library. Her tabling hours are 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Student Activity Center.