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June 20, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Ghana trip inspires SRU graduate’s Peace Corps commitment

Rachel Popik, a 2012 Slippery Rock University special education graduate from Newtown, has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for The Gambia June 24 to begin training as an education volunteer.

“I went to Ghana through the Women's Studies program for an internship with Dr. Cindy LaCom and fell in love. It was then that I decided that I wanted to join the Peace Corps,” Popik said. During her undergraduate career at SRU, Popik spent three weeks in Ghana in an internship, collaborating on a research study with Case Western University’s medical program on the effects of domestic violence on access to reproductive healthcare.

Popik will live and work in a community to improve participatory teaching methodologies, inclusion practices, classroom management, authentic assessments, parental involvement and gender equality in the classroom.

“My uncle’s friend had served in the Peace Corps, and I remember talking to him about his experiences in Cameroon when I was 10,” Popik said. “It was so fascinating to me. When the time came for me to get ready to graduate college, there weren’t many career opportunities on the horizon for me at that point. The Peace Corps sounded like an amazing opportunity.”

During the first three months of her service, Popik will live with a host family in The Gambia to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the language and cultural skills necessary to assist her community, she will be sworn into service and assigned to a community where she will live and work with the local people two years.

There are 330 Pennsylvania residents now serving in the Peace Corps. More than 7,618 Pennsylvania residents have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.