Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hired! Teacher Candidate Olivia Murphy-Sweet Hired by Peace Corps #psuaged16

Name that place: 

Area:  196, 722 square miles, slightly smaller than South Dakota
Climate: tropical, hot and humid 
Population:  13,975,834 
Last Hint: Will be the new home of a Penn State Teacher Candidate?  

 If you guessed Senegal, you guessed correctly!  Ms. Olivia Murphy-Sweet has been selected to serve as a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal departing in September!

Throughout her time at Penn State, Olivia was engaged in academics and student organizations.  She was involved in Teach Ag! Society and the Omega Phi Alpha Community Service Sorority.  Olivia has an  International Agriculture minor which led her to Belize to conduct undergraduate research.  It was this experience that led her to the Peace Corps.  "After doing my research project in Belize this past summer, I knew that I could do Peace Corps because of my passion for agriculture and working internationally in different communities. I enjoy integrating myself in new cultures."  She credits Melanie Miller Foster for pushing her through her research and out of her comfort zone.  After completing her research Olivia, with the help of International Agriculture Instructor and Minor Coordinator Dr. Daniel Tobin, applied for the Peace Corps.  

Olivia will participate in various projects in Senegal serving
with the Peace Corps. 
Olivia will be living in a Senegalese community engaging with local community members and farmers to improve their food security.  The goals of the agriculture project in Senegal include: improving crop management skills and intensifying fruit and vegetable production.  These goals are accomplished through various community projects with the help of Peace Corps volunteers.  "Peace Corps allows me the time to fully integrate myself into a community and then they allow me to work on my own projects."  Olivia is most excited to meet new people and see how her experiences gained as part of the Penn State Ag Ed program will benefit both her and her community.  

Olivia has spent the last 15 weeks student teaching at Walter Biddle High School with Ms. Tiffany Turrentine and Ms. Jessica McAtemeney.  "Ag Ed has taught me numerous ways of planning and mapping out problems to finding solutions." Through her training at Penn State and also her student teaching experience in Philadelphia, Olivia has gained more skills in patience and observation before altering any situation. "Ag Ed skills are crucial in international development if you are working in the agriculture sector."  

Ms. Tiffany Turrentine and Olivia with the ferrets from the
animal lab. 
Her skills in agricultural education and experiences internationally will guide her as she discovers different perspectives throughout Senegal. A new language, new community and new ideas can come with a little hesitation.  Thankfully Olivia has her Penn State and immediate family behind her 100%.  "I have a strong network of family and friends." Olivia's advice?  "Don't be afraid to do your own thing.  It's okay to be selfish and see the world!"  Good Luck Olivia, and Congratulations!  If you would like to read more about Olivia's experience and her future work in Senegal, check out her blog and the Peace Corps Senegal Website.  

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog.

Kayla Hack

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @hackkayla

2017 Agriculture Education Student Teacher

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