The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Resource Economics Seniors Andrew Mack and Brendan Moore to Enter Peace Corps

Andrew Mack and Brendan Moore standing next to each other in button down shirts
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

By Emilie Ferreira, SBS Associate Director of External Affairs for Communication & Events

Two outstanding seniors, both resource economics majors, have plans to enter the Peace Corps starting this summer.

Andrew Mack and Brendan Moore, two students with similar career aspirations, will be tasked with two very different areas of work over the next two years. Mack, who is majoring in both resource economics and nutrition, will be traveling to Belize to become a Health Resource Advisor, working with administrative health and schools to educate them about non-communicable diseases. Moore, on the other hand, will be going to Africa to teach secondary math…in French!

Seated next to each other in class one day, one turned to the other to ask what his plan were after graduation. When the possibility of the Peace Corps was brought up, both students were excited to find out more. They spent months researching, applying, interviewing, and were ecstatic to ultimately receive the news of acceptance.

Mack will be first to embark on his Peace Corps journey, heading to Belize on June 21st. He’ll spend the summer training for his position, and his assignment will begin in September. “There will be about 20 other volunteers on assignment,” he explains. “Once our individual strengths and traits are made apparent, we will each be placed in a different part of the country. I don’t know who my host family will be, yet, but I’m looking forward to the adventure! My two degrees in Resource Economics and Nutrition have prepared me for this role as a health resource advisor. All I know is there is work that needs to get done, and while it may be hard at times, I’m excited to give it my all.”

Moore, who will be leaving the States on July 1st, is excited to be able to travel again and make a difference. “I studied abroad in South Africa for six months and I loved the work I did while I was there,” he says. “While I was abroad, I learned of an organization that immerses students within a township, tutoring kids after school. I've been a teaching assistant before, but this opportunity was on a whole new level. It was the catalyst for applying to the Peace Corps. I always knew I wanted to go abroad again and do meaningful work.”

Moore says that the most appealing part of this next chapter in his life is the challenge it poses for him. And he’s ready to face it head on.  “Even though I’ll be teaching math, I’ll be doing it all in French. And I’m not even fluent in French! I’m taking a class now and will be doing some Rosetta Stone work to prepare.” Moore also jokes, “I guess the first thing I should learn are the numbers, right?”

Both students are interested in doing international development work after completing their Peace Corps assignments, but they’re taking things one day at a time. They both attest to the fact that this experience will undoubtedly change their ways of thinking, so they’re not making concrete plans for their future beyond the Corps just yet.

Reflecting on his years at UMass, Mack speaks about his coursework in SBS and how influential his professors have been. One especially impactful class was Leonce Ndikumana’s African Development course, to which Mack credits his interest in international development. “All of my professors have encouraged me to pursue a career in international development, but Professor Ndikumana’s course certainly strengthened that desire,” says Mack. “Other professors, like Julie Caswell, have also been really helpful in my time here.”

Moore echoes that sentiment. “Being a Resource Economics major has granted me the opportunity to really get to know my professors because the department is so tight-knit. Knowing my professors has furthered my educational opportunities tremendously, and I’m sure I would not have received admission to the Peace Corps had I not made such great relationships with the faculty in my department.”

Both students agree that their studies in Resource Economics, and SBS in general, have inspired them to think outside the box. They’ve been involved in things they never imagined they’d have the opportunity to be involved with when they started as freshmen. The diversity of classes they’ve taken has opened their eyes to a whole new range of possible career opportunities. They leave SBS with an open mind, ready to immerse themselves in new cultures, and excited to take on the challenge of making the world a better place.

Related Links

If you’re interested in joining the Peace Corps, visit their website to see possible volunteer openings.

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