Laura Jernegan, 22, of Edgartown, Massachusetts, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Vanuatu January 23 to begin training as an information technology and English education volunteer. Jernegan will live and work at the community level to make a difference by working with local English teachers in order to improve their capacity to teach English to primary school students and by co-teaching a class with a local partner teacher.
“My friends and family have been extremely supportive of my decision to join the Peace Corps,” said Jernegan. “Not only do they support me but they are constantly expressing how excited they are for me.”
Jernegan credits her experiences with development work in Ghana, as well as her role as a summer volunteer with Jumpstart, a program that pairs college students with preschool programs, and tutoring students in algebra at a high school in Washington, D.C. as inspiring her to consider Peace Corps service.
Jernegan is the daughter of Cliff and Debbie Jernegan and a graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts. She then attended American University in Washington, D.C., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 2013.
During the first three months of her service, Jernegan will live with a host family in Vanuatu to learn the local language and integrate into the local culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills that will help her make a lasting difference, Jernegan will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in Vanuatu where she will serve for two years.
Jernegan will work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in Vanuatu and help Jernegan develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge when she returns home. Peace Corps volunteers return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
“I am very excited to live more simply and in a community that will help me gain a deeper appreciation of all that I have while also allowing me to express myself in a beneficial way.”
Jernegan joins 203 Massachusetts residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. Since its establishment in 1961, 8,034 residents have served in the Peace Corps.
About Peace Corps in Vanuatu: There are currently 63 volunteers in Vanuatu working in the areas of education and health. During their service in Vanuatu, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including French and Bislama. More than 635 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Vanuatu since the program was established in 1990.
About the Peace Corps: As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. When they return home, volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences – and a global outlook – back to the United States that enriches the lives of those around them. President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to foster a better understanding among Americans and people of other countries. Since then, more than 215,000 Americans of all ages have served in 139 countries worldwide. Visit www.peacecorps.gov to learn more.