Serving with the Peace Corps

By: Joshua Utter (’13)

Duhawks have a tradition of serving others.  We are very proud of some recent alumni who will be entering Peace Corps service this summer.  Joshua Utter (’13), Laura Rieger (’11) and Natalie Roling (’10) will all embark on this life-changing adventure in the coming months.  Below is Josh’s story about the path that lead him to Sierra Leone.

“June 17, 2013 marks the beginning of a new adventure for me. On that day I will have my first day of training as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the African country of Sierra Leone. Only having three short weeks after graduation to say goodbye to home, I will be packing up and heading out to serve as an English teacher in a secondary school. While a number of my peers will be adjusting to a job or graduate school, I will have the challenge of transitioning into a new culture, language, and environment. I will say goodbye to my normal routine and immerse myself into something completely new. It seems daunting, but I know I am ready.            
I am ready because Loras College has guided and supported me throughout my four years. From Sociology to Spanish to Creative Writing courses, each discipline has pushed me out of my comfort zone and further into the community.  They have helped me realize that as a human and a Catholic that one should not just sit and observe but contribute to the greater community around us.
During my time at Loras College, I have had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ways. As a first-year student, I participated in a Campus Ministry service trip to Chicago. Not only were my eyes opened to the poverty in our own country, but I came to realize how through service we uphold the dignity of each human person. We do not simply help them, but we build a relationship and make a human connection. It also taught me that I could do this service on a more local level. I could contribute at home in Dubuque. Since then, I have served here in Dubuque and beyond: from mentoring at the Dubuque Multicultural Family Center to playing dominos with elderly men at a nursing home in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. All of these experiences not only gave me valuable skills and knowledge, but also built relationships that will last beyond graduation. Each experience has also taught me something different and reinforced my belief that through responsible contributing, we do not only make one person’s day better, but we make the world a better place.
Serving with the Peace Corps may take me away from home for a while, but I know it is well worth it. As I have learned at Loras College, the call to serve does not have one specific location; it exists wherever there is a person in need of a helping hand. Loras College expects it students to know the value of responsible contributing; the Peace Corps just takes it to another level. Service means crossing the borders of self and it has no limits.  Sierra Leone is no exception.”

We’d love to hear from you about your Peace Corps experiences, current or past!  Visit to tell us your story!

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