MACON – Mercer University senior Kaitlyn Koontz has been selected to serve the Peace Corps as a community health volunteer in Ethiopia beginning in January.
This semester, Koontz, from Peachtree City, is completing coursework toward a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Liberal Arts with a major in global health studies and a minor in international affairs. She plans to attend graduate school following her Peace Corps service to pursue a Master of Public Health degree.
“The Department of International and Global Studies (IGS) is very proud of Kaitlyn’s accomplishment,” said Dr. Eimad Houry, professor and chair. “All our programs encourage students to experience the world firsthand through a variety of study abroad opportunities and to use an integrated approach to understanding the complex realities we confront. Both the philosophy and the practices of the Peace Corps program are excellent manifestations of the curricula and learning objectives of programs in IGS.”
As a community health volunteer, Koontz will be educating Ethiopians about the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Program, as well as providing information about basic nutrition and healthy eating practices.
“I am beyond overjoyed to receive this opportunity to strengthen others across the globe,” said Koontz. “I am so blessed to attend a University that underscores the value of community outreach, no matter how far away that community might be. I am so lucky to belong to the outstanding Department of International and Global Studies and have professors who continue to encourage me to succeed.
“I am excited to utilize my global and public health knowledge in the field. I hope this experience teaches me how to best communicate with others through the lens of global health and community service.”
As a student, Koontz has focused her research on hunger and food insecurity. She has presented work on the prevalence of food deserts in Macon at Mercer’s BEAR (Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research) Day. She also serves as an intern at the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank.
Koontz has participated in the Model Arab League and Model World Health Organization and served as a peer adviser and preceptor for the Great Books Program.
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 225,000 Americans have served in 141 countries. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov.