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Amanda McRoy, center, with some friends in Cameroon during her two-year Peace Corps stay

Amanda McRoy, center, with some friends in Cameroon during her two-year Peace Corps stayAmanda McRoy said joining the Peace Corps was “the most life-changing decision” of her life. Now, she wants to help UT students as they consider service in the Peace Corps.

McRoy, 25, who is working on her master’s degree in speech pathology at UT after earning a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is the new Peace Corps campus recruiter.

“I wanted to be a recruiter because I love Peace Corps,” McRoy said. “It truly was ‘the hardest job I’ve ever loved.’ I can’t help but be excited talking about my experiences and wanting to be a part of helping others create similar stories.”

McRoy joined the Peace Corps in 2009 and was sent to Cameroon, a republic in Central Africa, where she worked with community groups on basic health education. During her two years there, McRoy’s involvement with the community expanded to other projects such as creating a savings program, forming a medicinal plant group, and promoting the use of soy as a protein supplement.

“All of the projects and seminars that I did during my service were ideas that community members brought to me,” she said. “Soy is still alive and growing in my village.”

Although she enjoyed helping the community, McRoy’s stay in Cameroon was not always easy.

“The constant barrage of catcalls and requests for money on top of the daily marriage proposals and questions about what I was doing over there were hard to handle on some days,” she recalled. “It was very difficult sticking out like a sore thumb everywhere I went. Sometimes it’s nice to feel invisible.”

But through the difficult times, McRoy said her experience was worth it.

“It isn’t easy, and it’s not always sweet smelling, or clean, or even fun, but it’s an adventure of the highest caliber,” she said. “I had my highest highs and lowest lows during my Peace Corps experiences, and I can’t wait to do it again.”

The Peace Corps taught McRoy several lessons and emphasized what matters most.

“I learned how important relationships are. Some of my fondest memories of Peace Corps are the friendly conversation and camaraderie shared while preparing a meal,” she recalled.

“The memory of playing with my neighborhood kids brings tears to my eyes even now. I wish that I could squeeze them one more time.”

McRoy hopes to inspire UT students to join the Peace Corps.

“I’d really love to see people open their minds and hearts to other cultures and people around the world. There is so much more out there.”

Applicants interested in the Peace Corps typically need to have a bachelor’s degree and should expect to be abroad for about twenty-seven months. Applicants chosen for the Peace Corps are given a living allowance that “enables them to live in a manner similar to the people in their community” and are paid $7,425 after their service. Transportation, dental care, and health care are covered by Peace Corps.

For more information about Peace Corps email Amanda McRoy at utkpeacecorps@gmail.com or call 865-974-0428.

C O N T A C T :

Amanda McRoy (865-974-0428, utkpeacecorps@gmail.com)