Peace Corps presentation shines light on service opportunities

November 19, 2015


On November 17, 2015, more than three dozen Auburn undergrads enjoyed a presentation on opportunities in the Peace Corps, featuring former Director of Peace Corps’ Special Initiatives, Dr. Paul Jhin. Jhin was appointed to his position by President George W. Bush. Also present was Atlanta-area Peace Corps recruiter Erica Wherry, who spent 27 months serving as a Peace Corps English teacher in Madagascar. The event was sponsored by the College of Education and Dean Betty Lou Whitford, who introduced the speakers.

Photo ogf Dr. Jhin
Dr. Paul Jhin

Dr. Jhin kicked off the event, sharing his personal history of growing up in South Korea but finding his way to America through the generous graces of a private citizen who won him a scholarship to Freed-Hardeman University in Hendersonville, Tennessee. From there, Jhin went on to attain five college degrees, including a Ph.D in Mathematics Education from the College of Education at Auburn University in 1971. His subsequent career was phenomenally successful, and he said he owes much of that success to Auburn.

“Wherever I go I share Auburn,” Jhin told the students. “I saw an abalone farm in Korea, and thought back to the outstanding Fisheries research I saw in my time at Auburn. So I am here to collaborate with the College of Agriculture, and encourage them to share their expertise in fish farming with communities in Africa and South America. By feeding poor people we can also share the power of education.”

In a motivational manner, Jhin encouraged the students to follow six rules in everything they do: Dream Big, Do It Right, Do It More, Be Grateful, Pray, and Do It Now. In a series of photos and anecdotes, Jhin showed the students how following these rules of life can lift them to great heights. He demonstrated this with events from his own life.

“I have been appointed to positions by both President Bushes, President Ford, and President Reagan,” he said. “Through persistence I was appointed as the first Asian-American on the Civil Rights Commission with President Reagan. I have also become friends with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon. If I can do these things, by following these rules, you can, too!”

As Dr. Jhin wound down his presentation, he reflected on the world travels and experiences the Peace Corps made possible to him, and told the students how Peace Corps veterans typically have high rates of success. He concluded by asking the students in attendance to do one thing when they left the presentation: “Call your mom and dad and tell them thank you!”

Photo of Ms. Erica Wherry
Ms. Erica Wherry

At that point Erica Wherry came on and shared how her life was enriched as a Peace Corps volunteer, and explained the mechanics of application, interviews, and placement in the Peace Corps. Although it is a very selective process, she encouraged those in attendance to consider whether it might be right for them and to stay in touch with any questions. She was then surrounded by students who asked specific questions about their own situations.

Overall the event was both inspirational and informational. Thanks to Dean Whitford and the College for sponsoring the event, and to Dr. Jhin and Ms. Wherry for their excellent presentations. For more information, feel free to reach out to either of them at pkjhin@gmail.com, or ewherry@peacecorps.gov.