Peace Corps

Joining the Peace Corps in Indonesia

By Ashley A. Williams

Joining the Peace Corps in Indonesia

By Ashley A. Williams
Alumna Lauren Crotty reflects on her undergraduate experience and the path that lead her to signing up with the Peace Corps.

Recent graduate Lauren Crotty had no clue that by the end of her senior year she would be joining the Peace Corps. After going through a months-long application process, the Charlotte, North Carolina native will leave for Indonesia in September to begin training as an English teacher.

“I’m just so excited to see how other parts of the world live,” said Crotty, who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology. “One thing being in Miami has taught me is how to deal with the feelings of being away from my family and friends. I am looking to gain lifelong friends with my co-volunteers. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

For 27 months, Crotty will co-teach in an Indonesian middle school, high school, or vocational school to improve student learning in English and enrich students’ life and academic abilities. Though she doesn’t know anyone else participating in the program and has never visited the country, she is keeping an open mind and ready for life abroad once again.

“I want to use my skills and passions to go and help others to make a small difference,” said Crotty, who was pleased with her Indonesian placement partly because of their widely available internet access.

Crotty is no stranger to living abroad. As an undergraduate at the University of Miami, she participated in the UGalapagos and Ecuador program offered through the Office of Study Abroad and Department of Biology. In the program, she gained hands-on learning through a series of island excursions and field-study assignments, and participated in community service projects. Crotty said this motivated her to seek additional ways to help people in other nations who “weren’t given the same opportunities as myself.”

At UM, Crotty found herself engaging further with her community, whether it was through service projects or leadership positions in various campus organizations. She was an active member of Delta Delta Delta, an international social sorority; a President’s 100 undergraduate admissions ambassador who gave campus tours to prospective and admitted students; an undergraduate biology teaching assistant; and a global ambassador for the Office of Study Abroad

“I plan to start my own community clean up initiative while in Indonesia,” said Crotty, who has been dedicated to helping others since she was a child. “I think being in the Peace Corps will set you up for anything. After this experience, I’ll be able to teach anywhere around the world.”

Crotty utilized the Toppel Career Center and its designated Peace Corps representative throughout her entire application process – which took several months. Toppel serves as a link between the agency and students who are seeking gap year options and contributing towards the development goals of communities around the world.

“I am so grateful for the Toppel Career Center’s help throughout the application process,” said Crotty, who began her application process in mid-December 2018. Through the decision to leave the United States wasn’t an easy one, she is excited to live in a foreign country.

Crotty will join 440 UM alumni who have served abroad as volunteers since the Peace Corps founding in 1961. Former University President Donna E. Shalala served as one the country’s first Peace Corps volunteers in Iran from 1962 to 1964. In 2018, there were 20 University of Miami graduates serving as volunteers in different sectors of the organization, and UM is ranked No. 16 by the organization for producing the most Peace Corp volunteers in the medium colleges and universities category.

Crotty credits UM’s diverse culture and strong international presence for pushing her out of her comfort zone. Upon her return to the United States, she plans to attend graduate school for evolutionary psychology.