Young Scholars education abroad experience nets her Peace Corps teaching job in Africa

Alanna Strickland dancing in Rwanda

Young Scholar’s global education experience nets her Peace Corps teaching job in Africa

By Josie Stewart

An education abroad experience in Rwanda and a hunger for public service have landed Young Scholar Alanna Strickland a position as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Togo after graduation this spring.

A first-generation college student from Canton, Strickland's desire to serve others across the globe began in the classroom at The Ohio State University after she switched from a STEM major to international relations. “I knew I Young Scholar Alanna Strickland  in a YSP t-shirtwanted to help people ever since I was younger, and at first, I had my future focused on something else entirely,” Strickland said. “I just kept looking through Ohio State's majors and [international studies] seemed like the only one that made sense to me. I think my major really helped me become curious about every form of development.”

Her experiences abroad only heightened this interest. Strickland participated in the “Genocide and Its Aftermath in Rwanda” program last summer, learning first-hand about how the country has been rebuilt and transformed. “[The program] made me take a step back and think about what can be done on a personal level and how I can encourage change to be bigger than just me,” Strickland said. “Learning about those who helped others during the genocide in 1994 and how a movement is bigger than just a few really shaped my ideas coming back to the States.”

Her interest in public service on the international level made Strickland an ideal student to appear as part of a public service panel for ODI's Career Exploration Nights in late February. Strickland shared her view of the importance of service alongside representatives from City Year, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, and Ohio State Peace Corps Coordinator, Laura Joseph. “I knew when I came out of college that many career opportunities and programs require a lot of experience and connections, both of which I do not have in my field — the Peace Corps has both,” Strickland said. “I also knew that I never wanted and still do not want to sit behind a desk. I want to be in the field and see change…with my own eyes.”

While Strickland said she is nervous for her transition to the front of the classroom in Togo, she is excited for the opportunity and will serve in the Peace Corps for two years. She will spend the first few months learning French and the basics of teaching before diving into her new role. “I have always had a passion for learning new cultures, and over the past three years I have been very interested in the African continent and how history has affected this region," Strickland said. “But I did not realize how much studying abroad in Rwanda has increased my passion and excitement about learning about how wonderful people can overcome adversity.”