Peace Corps Bruins

Since 1961, the Peace Corps has sent thousands of volunteers overseas to develop sustainable solutions for some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Launched by President John F. Kennedy to “promote world peace and friendship,” more than 240,000 Americans have served around the world. UCLA began training Peace Corps participants at the program’s inception, and has trained more than 2,000 volunteers. Bruins have travelled across the globe — from Taveuni Island in Fiji, to a small town in Mozambique, and many places in between. They share their unique, life-changing experiences that have shaped our world for the better.
Wendy Maya

Wendy Maya ’10

Years in Peace Corps: 2012-14
Country: Mozambique
Region/City: Chimoio

Wendy Maya ʼ10 immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. with her family at age three. At UCLA, the first-generation college student enjoyed studying abroad, working part-time and taking Muay Thai classes, a type of boxing. In her senior year, while weighing her future options, she attended a Peace Corps information session. Maya applied to the program, and was assigned to Mozambique. “When I applied to the Peace Corps, I assumed I would be in a Latin American country. I never imagined it would take me to Africa.”
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Emre Titzer

Emre Titizer, MBA exp. ’21

Years in Peace Corps: 2017-19
Country: Timor-Leste
Region/City: Venilale, Baucau District

“The Peace Corps service is for anyone who wants to make a positive impact in the world, while challenging themselves and gaining a new perspective,” says Emre Titizer, MBA exp. ’21. After graduating from UC Davis, Titizer moved to San Francisco to work as a consultant. A colleague shared stories of their recent Peace Corps experience. Titizer was intrigued. “Coming from an immigrant background, family and friends were surprised when I joined. But the idea of service and giving back to the community piqued my interest, and I knew it was something I wanted to do before turning 30.”
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Michelle Bennett

Michelle Bennett ’99, M.S.W. ’01

Years in Peace Corps: 2016-18
Country: China
Region/City: Gansu Province

The opening scene from the classic 80s movie "Dirty Dancing" inspired Michelle Bennett ’99, M.S.W. ’01, to enlist in the Peace Corps. In the movie, the character Baby Houseman narrates from the future about her younger self, “Before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came -- when I couldn't wait to join the Peace Corps.”
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Eunice Lee

Eunice Lee ’17

Years in Peace Corps: 2017-19
Country: Namibia
Region/City: Kavango West

Eunice Lee ‘17 had never traveled abroad until she joined the Peace Corps. At UCLA, Lee was involved with the Alumni Scholars Club, Alumni Mentor Program and the Achievement Scholars Club and believes that taking on leadership roles as a student helped her become a more proactive individual. She first learned about the Peace Corps as an intern at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and decided to apply that year. Lee says, “I was filled with a longing to explore the world and contribute to positive impact projects in any way I could.”
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Adam Shahar

Adam Shahar, M.P.H. ’19, M.S.N. exp. ’21

Years in Peace Corps: 2014-16
Country: Ecuador
Region/City: Pasaje, El Oro Province

Adam Shahar, M.P.H. ’19, wanted to serve communities with a health need, “I wanted to challenge myself outside of academics, where I had an opportunity to grow and see things from a different perspective.” He first learned about the Peace Corps through his stepbrother, who served in the Philippines.
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Hamilton Luu

Hamilton Luu ’15

Years in Peace Corps: 2015-17
Country: Fiji
Region/City: Taveuni Island

“The most important advice for anyone considering the Peace Corps is this ꟷ expect to gain more from the entire experience than you could ever give,” says Hamilton Luu ’15. While a UCLA freshman, Luu enrolled in a Global Studies course that changed his world view. He found his classmates committed to developing solutions to address global challenges. “For me, the Peace Corps seemed like a great start.”
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Ryan Ahari

Ryan Ahari ’16

Years in Peace Corps: 2019-21
Country: Armenia
Region/City: Gegharkunik Province

Ryan Ahari ’16 learned about the Peace Corps in a high school government class. With a belief in leaving the world a better place grounded in his faith, Ahari knew his acceptance to UCLA would lead him to his goal of joining the Peace Corps. At UCLA he became involved in efforts to create social change through civic engagement and volunteer programs, including the UCLA Volunteer Center. Says Ahari, “UCLA taught me to think globally and act locally. When I graduated, my next step was to think and act globally.”
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Jenny Wang

Jenny Wang ’01

Years in Peace Corps: 2010-12
Country: Cameroon
Region/City: Baré, Littoral Region of Cameroon

A traveler at heart, Taiwan native Jenny Wang ’01 is inspired to learn about other cultures. When a friend mentioned the Peace Corps, Wang, who had recently applied for U.S. citizenship, was intrigued. “I needed a change of pace, and it seemed like the right time to apply.”
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Alfred Fung

Alfred Fung ’01

Years in Peace Corps: 2002-03; 2003-05
Country: China; Palau
Region/City: Duyun, Guizhou Province, China; Koror, Palau, Micronesia

From an early age, Alfred Fung ’01 wanted to impact the world. Fueled by a sense of adventure, his Peace Corps service was the first step towards that goal. “I attended an information session during my third year at UCLA,” he says. “I was just a kid in college with a desire to do something unique before the realities of adulthood.”
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Carmen Chang

Carmen Chang ’06

Years in Peace Corps: 2010-12
Country: Cameroon
Region/City: Bamenda (Northwest Region)

Carmen Chang first learned about the Peace Corps over a cup of coffee with a member of the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity chapter at UCLA. “I remember we talked about life after college and how he was working on his application to join the Peace Corps,” says Chang. “I was excited to learn about the program and my love for international travel somehow sparked my interest.”
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Thanos Trezos

Thanos Trezos, Ph.D. ’86, MBA ’01

Years in Peace Corps: 2017-19
Country: Panama
Region/City: Coclé/Perecabe

When Thanos Trezos heard about the Peace Corps as a graduate student at Purdue University, he fell in love with the idea. Thirty-five years later, Trezos and his wife, Kaly, left their home in San Gabriel, Calif., to serve two years in Panama as water sanitation and health volunteers. Coclé, southwest of Panama City, is an agricultural area, bordered by mountains, beaches and the crater of an extinct volcano.
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