For the first time, two UC Merced graduates have joined the Peace Corps.
Jacqueline Shay and Socorra Camposanto will head to the North Africa nation of Morocco on Monday for their 2½ years of service.
"We are thrilled that Jacqueline and Socorra will be entering the Peace Corps," said Janet Allen, manager of the Peace Corps, San Francisco Regional Recruitment Office. "We know they will be the first of many fine UC Merced alumni to serve."
Shay is a Merced native and studied molecular and cellular biology at UC Merced in 2009. She served two years as vice president of the student government and received the Vice Chancellor's Award for service to students. She will train in Morocco as a community health educator.
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"Volunteering is a significant part of my life, and although it may sound cliché, I have wanted to be a part of the Peace Corps since I was a little girl," Shay said.
Camposanto grew up in San Jose and graduated from UC Merced with a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2009. She will serve as an environmental education volunteer. Camposanto said she's motivated by her brother, Jeremiah, a marine who died at 21.
"My brother died young and there were so many more things he wanted to do in life," she said. "I want to make sure I not only create opportunities but also have the courage to take advantage of them when they present themselves."
Both women will spend their first three months of service in training, living with host families and studying Morocco's language and culture. After training, they will begin two-year assignments.
Today, 7,671 Peace Corps volunteers serve in 76 countries. More Peace Corps Volunteers come from California than any other state. Since 1961, nearly 200,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in 139 countries.
-- Jamie Oppenheim