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Wanderlust spurs BW grad to Peace Corps

Kerrigan Ponsart '23 was born restless in a world with infinite possibility. From an imaginative childhood to a plenteous college experience, she received dual honors this spring from the Fulbright Program and Peace Corps.

photo of Kerrigan Ponsart in Greece

The Peace Corps named her a finalist, an offer she enthusiastically accepted. Her two-year placement will lead her to a rural part of Zambia in August to teach English to schoolchildren.

Afterward, she learned she was named a Fulbright alternate, a high honor considering the number of applications submitted across the U.S. Both the Peace Corps and Fulbright have applicant acceptance rates of only 20%.

Passion for Travel and Service

Ponsart's passport is vibrant with travel - including a study abroad trip to Spain for the fall 2022 semester as well as an eight-week, 22-country solo backpacking adventure through Europe she described as both the hardest thing she's ever done but the most incredible experience of her life.

photo of Kerrigan Ponsart in France

Last spring, the political science and international studies double major from Cleveland was an intern through The Washington Center, a national program offered through BW's Center for Global Exploration that connects college students to impressive internships. Ponsart worked with Magis Americas, a nonprofit that partners with organizations mostly in Latin America on projects that address education, immigration and ecology.

Service is also important to Ponsart. Through BW's Brain Center for Community Engagement, she traveled to Chicago to work with children in the foster care system. In addition, she has volunteered with the AdvantageCLE and Seeds of Literacy weekly programs and was on the leadership team for Jackets Engaged and the student director of Swipe Out Hunger.

Inspiring Positive Change

Ponsart's aspirations include earning a master's degree in international development and working with an international aid organization. Her ultimate goal is to work for the State Department, ideally as a foreign service officer on the political track.

"As a Peace Corps volunteer, I look forward to working alongside local leaders, building on each other's strengths and finding solutions together. I expect to struggle as a volunteer in a new country, but my passion combined with determination and skills I've learned to adapt to changing circumstances will make me successful," she believes.

"My global experiences in the past have shaped the woman I am today. I am somebody who wants to contribute to the positive change I know we can inspire together," she emphasized.

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