Allegheny Senior Bailey Pifer Prepares for Peace Corps Service
The tropical savannas and rainforests of Rwanda are a long way from the temperate rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, and Allegheny College senior Bailey Pifer is about to find that out.
Pifer, who will graduate on May 11 from Allegheny, will soon thereafter board an airplane and fly to central Africa as part of a Peace Corps deployment. She is one of three Allegheny seniors — the others are Daniel Larson of Circle Pines, Minnesota, and Sarah Rogan of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – who joined the Peace Corps this year in what is becoming a proud Gator tradition. Since 1961, about 220 Allegheny alumni have served overseas as Peace Corps volunteers.
“To me this is just further demonstration of the ethic of service all four students have lived while at Allegheny,” says Jim Fitch, director of Career Education in the Allegheny Gateway.
“Bailey was one of 23 students who completed the experiential learning seminar to Nicaragua in May 2016, where as a member of the team she tirelessly worked with the members of the Chacocente community mixing cement, laying block, and completing various construction projects,” Fitch says. “I’m proud of and happy for all of them.”
Pifer has been assigned to work as a maternal and child health coordinator, focused on improving health and nutrition among the Rwandan population.
“My role will be to support families in adopting improved hygiene and safe water practices at the household level and encourage families to prevent and appropriately respond to childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, malaria and HIV,” says Pifer, who is from Oil City, Pennsylvania.
Pifer is not daunted by the fact that soon she will be more than 7,000 miles from her family and friends. “My parents are already trying to find a way to come see me during my service, so I know if I truly need anything they will be there. It’s going to be challenging and there will be many difficulties along the way, but I am excited for this opportunity and ready to face these challenges,” she says.
Pifer, who is a biochemistry major and global health studies minor, has been deeply involved in service and extracurricular activities at Allegheny. Her resume includes participation in Educating Minds of Creative Children, women’s rugby, Alpha Phi Omega, the Allegheny Volunteer Service Leader Program, the Davies Service Leader Program, Toys for Tots, a Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement internship, the Network for Local Research and Knowledge Program and the Pre-Health Professions Club. She also has served as a first aid provider and a volunteer with the Grounds For Change coffeehouse, Second Harvest Food Drive and French Creek Clean Up.
She opted for volunteer work overseas instead of seeking employment in-country as a way to achieve her eventual goal of becoming a hospital pediatrician.
“The Peace Corps allows me to get experience in the medical profession under moral and ethical regulations while also learning about nontraditional and traditional medical practices that could further maternal and child healthcare in the United States,” says Pifer. “There are many jobs in the U.S. that can provide these opportunities, but by living in another country you have to step out of your comfort zone and everything you know to adapt, which is something that jobs in the U.S. cannot provide to the fullest extent.”
Community service has allowed Pifer to explore avenues of development that she otherwise would not have ventured into. “Community service has been one of the highlights of my time here at Allegheny. It has allowed for countless opportunities that I would have never thought would occur. Looking back to freshman year and high school, I’m definitely not the same person today, and I would not change it for the world,” she says. “Allegheny overall has allowed me to become a well-rounded individual with so many experiences and skills.”
For students just starting their academic careers at Allegheny, Pifer advises: “I would definitely say to get involved in the campus and community activities and events as much as you can because four years go by really fast and you don’t want to have any regrets following graduation. Also, figure out who you are and what makes you happy.”
Allegheny ranks No. 9 among small schools on the 2019 Peace Corps list of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. Currently, there are 12 Allegheny alumni working as Peace Corps volunteers around the world.