Alana McGinty

SA 025-resizeI became interested in the Peace and Conflict Resolution minor because of my interest in social justice, human rights, and international relations. My majors in Political Science and Sociology and the minor in Peace and Conflict Resolution allowed me to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on the topics that I was most fascinated by. In addition to the courses, I found the service aspect of the Peace and Conflict Resolution minor extremely rewarding both personally and professionally. I volunteered at the Unity Community Center and interned at the Ecology Action Center. Both of these organizations provided me with invaluable experiences.

Since graduation I’ve served in the Peace Corps in South Africa (January 2011 to March 2013). As part of the Community HIV/AIDS Outreach Project I worked in a small rural town on projects focused on empowering and educating the most vulnerable populations in the community. Throughout my Peace Corps service I have referenced my classes and other service experiences multiple times. When asked to help with the programming and curriculum of an after school center for orphans and vulnerable children I was able to reach out to the Unity Community Center for assistance. They provided me with excellent resources that I could share with my South African counterparts.

My educational background provided me with a more holistic understanding of the challenges facing South Africa and the community I worked with. My Peace and Conflict Resolution minor allowed me to understand more thoroughly the complex social issues facing a country with a history like South Africa and how that history continues to impact them today. Working in development I dealt directly with the legacy of Apartheid on a daily basis and my Peace and Conflict Resolution studies allowed me to understand and work through the challenges related to it.

Stacey Krywaruczenko

IMG_1178When I first began my studies at ISU, I had my hopes set on becoming a high school Spanish teacher. My first two years I took all the required general education classes necessary, I started observations at different schools and was heading down the path I had set out for myself. When signing up for classes for the spring of 2008, I researched adding a minor to my course study. I researched all of the possibilities that would mesh well with an education degree, and one of the ones I found was the Peace and Conflict Resolution minor. One of the aspects that I was drawn to was that it was interdisciplinary, and included a wide variety of topics that interested me. I had even already taken courses that counted toward the minor. That semester I took the Peace Studies class and was able to meet other students interested in the peace studies.

In the summer of 2008 I studied abroad in Taxco, Mexico with a group of students from ISU. While we were there, I absolutely fell in love with the culture and language. I came to the realization that I didn’t want to become a teacher, in fact I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career, but I did know that I wanted to study Spanish and serve others. While we were in Mexico, I remember dropping my education classes, and looking for other classes that would interest me, and that would fulfill the requirements to finish the Peace Studies minor. I ended up registering for International Organizations, and this class really jump-started my interest to focus on conflict resolution and violence prevention within the minor.

The Peace Studies minor, and my Spanish major have really shaped what it is that I want to do for a career. After graduating in 2010, I did two years of AmeriCorps, serving English language learners as a literacy tutor and aiding in much needed after school programs. I currently am working for the Sonoma County YMCA teaching kindergarten as an after school classroom leader. Currently I am interested in getting a Masters in Multicultural and International education to either start my own non-profit or to work in an international organization. The Peace and Conflict resolution minor really helped me discover my interest in global issues and how we as ordinary citizens have the power to be the change we wish to see in the world. It is a minor that I would recommend to anyone as a way to challenge yourself and to discover more about our current society.

Alexandria Trimble

Alexandria TrimbleAlexandria is serving with Peace Corps El Salvador. A graduate student in the Department of Politics and Government, she is building on her coursework at Illinois State University by serving as a Community Organization and Economic Development Volunteer in rural El Salvador. She is working with local organizations and businesses to promote leadership and increase community awareness of development initiatives. Prior to Peace Corps, she served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer with the McLean County Community Compact in partnership with the University of Illinois Extension. Alexandria has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with minors in Sociology and Peace and Conflict Resolution from Illinois State University.

Kristen Gianaris

Kristen Gianaris

After graduating with a major in Sociology and minors in Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies in May 2013, I decided to take a year off before going back to school for a Master’s degree in the fall of 2014. So far, this year has brought many challenges, rewards, and valuable experiences. Since graduation I have spent most of my time traveling – and informally continuing my education. I spent almost two months in India and Bhutan as a research assistant in the area of human rights and justice, a month leading groups of international volunteers on the East Coast of the U.S., a few months working on a farm in Illinois, and I finally made my way to China to teach English. I was motivated to teach in China because of the opportunity to return to an educational environment. I teach children ages 3-15 and spend most of my free time continuing to study Chinese. Part of my job as an English teacher is to share culture and learn from other cultures. I enjoy the challenge of living in a new culture and speaking a different language. I appreciate the new experience and the adventure that comes with living in a different country. A normal week for me in China usually consists of lesson planning, teaching a dozen classes, spending several hours studying Chinese, and exploring new places, eating adventurously, and exhausting myself with the constant challenge of speaking and understanding Chinese. Although I do get paid to teach English, I consider this experience (and the others I have had since graduation) a lifestyle rather than a job. I am frequently moving, often teaching, and always learning.  In May, I will head back to the States and begin leading a group of high school students in a service and leadership program in Yellowstone National Park for the summer. When I go back to school in the fall, I will be taking with me the education and experiences that I gained throughout my time at Illinois State University and following.


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