MACON – Mercer University Class of 2020 graduates Emily Cadle, David Stokes and Mason Thornton were recently selected to serve the Peace Corps in Zambia, Morocco and Peru, respectively, bringing the institution’s total number of placements to six for the 2019-2020 academic year.
“For our students, serving in the Peace Corps is an excellent opportunity to carry on Mercer University’s mission ‘to teach, to learn, to create, to discover, to inspire, to empower and to serve’ as they will be working alongside local leaders in their host countries to create positive change in the world around them,” said Rebekah Anaya, study abroad coordinator and Peace Corps Prep coordinator in the Office of International Programs. “The Peace Corps Prep program prepares students for their future Peace Corps service by fulfilling the program requirements during their time at Mercer. As a result of this recently-established program, we have seen the number of accepted Peace Corps placements double this year compared to previous years and look forward to continued growth in the years to come.”
Cadle, from Mansfield, Ohio, is a global health studies major. She will serve as a maternal and child health HIV/AIDS educator in Zambia.
“I am extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia,” she said. “I have been working towards this goal for the last three years because I fell in love with the sustainable development that Peace Corps tries to facilitate. While I am serving in Zambia, I hope to learn more about the world around me through living and working in a different culture for an extended period of time.”
At Mercer, Cadle was active in the Wesley Foundation on-campus ministry as a student leader and missions intern and was selected to the President’s List and Dean’s List. She participated in a three-month internship in Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked with Ikamva Labantu early childhood development center.
At the conclusion of her Peace Corps service, she plans to attend graduate school in public health and pursue a career in a related field.
“I am absolutely thrilled for Emily,” said Dr. Amy Nichols-Belo, associate professor of global health studies and anthropology. “As a global health studies major, Emily has prepared for her Peace Corps placement in Zambia by taking my maternal and child health course, completing a semester-long internship in South Africa at Ikamvu Labantu, a community development organization that works in Cape Town’s townships, and by taking additional global development studies courses.”
Stokes, from Atlanta, is an international affairs and religion double-major with a minor in French. He will serve as a youth development specialist in Morocco.
“I am honored to have been invited to serve with the Peace Corps and return to Morocco to continue my efforts working with migrants, refugees and at-risk youth,” he said. “I am excited for the opportunity to make meaningful change in the world and expect to be challenged in a new environment, but I know that the experience will prepare me for other challenges as I advance through my future career goals.”
At Mercer, Stokes was founder and chairman of Mercer Students for Justice in Palestine, secretary-general of Model Arab League, and a founding member of Bears Engaged Across Religions, which received the New Student Organization of the Year Award for 2019-2020. He received the Adiel Sherwood Outstanding Senior in Religion, J.L. Dagg Writing in Religion and Walter C. Dowling Outstanding Senior in International Affairs awards. He also served as a board member for the Palestine Museum and Human Rights Center in Cape Town, South Africa, and on the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
At the conclusion of his Peace Corps service, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in postcolonial studies and teach at the university level.
“I could not be happier for David,” said Dr. Eimad Houry, professor and chair of international and global studies. “As a student at Mercer, he has developed a passion for everything Middle Eastern and North African. He traveled these regions extensively, spent a semester studying in Morocco and took up Arabic for a summer in Lebanon. As an international affairs and religion double-major, he understands the interplay between politics, economics, culture and the environment, and as a result he will bring a fresh and more nuanced perspective to regional issues. I am especially proud of his work with Students for Justice in Palestine, and I am very confident that he will earn his Ph.D. and become a highly respected scholar of the Middle East region in the near future.”
Thornton, from Sugar Hill, is a double-major in Spanish and chemical commerce. He will serve as a community health facilitator in Peru.
“I am so thankful to have the opportunity to serve while immersing myself in another culture,” he said. “This opportunity to grow more in such a unique way following my college career is a blessing. I’m looking forward to developing myself, a new language and skills while serving a new community.”
At Mercer, Thornton served as vice president, social chair and chaplain of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, a peer adviser, a student employee in admissions, a biology teaching assistant and a member of the University Honors Program. He traveled with Mercer On Mission to Peru and studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain.
At the conclusion of his Peace Corps service, he plans to attend medical school.
“Mason is a young man with many talents, and I am excited to see him continue to put those talents to use in the service of others,” said Dr. Adam Kiefer, Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry. “Mason’s acceptance into the Peace Corps program is a natural continuation of much of the service work that he has already conducted while at Mercer, and I am happy to see him return to Peru.”
The Peace Corps, established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, is a volunteer program administered by the U.S. government to send the best and brightest Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. To date, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries.