"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, January 5, 2015

21. Stephen Church

San Salvador, El Salvador · Agriculture and Life Sciences


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
After graduating from Cornell, I joined the Peace Corps and served as a Volunteer in southern Ecuador. I met my wife Katy there, and we married towards the end of my service. After Peace Corps, we came to the US so I could work on a master's degree in development economics. In 2001, our son Joshua was born, and soon after we moved to Washington, DC, where I worked for an international development organization for two years before heading back to Ecuador. By the time Joshua was in kindergarten, we thought it was time to lay down some roots somewhere in the US, and we settled (at least temporarily) in Tampa, Florida, where I worked in international education for seven years. Eventually the travel itch came back, and we are overseas again with Peace Corps, but this time in El Salvador where I am Director of Programming and Training.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

I have lots of great memories from my time at Cornell, but my favorite comes from the night before graduation. Holland Foote and I were spending one last night with friends at the Royal Palm Tavern, and we had heard that it was tradition to sing the alma mater sometime before closing. Last call came and went but no alma mater, so when the lights came on and the bouncers started herding people out, we began to sing (shout?) the alma mater, and before we got to "waves of blue," the whole place was singing. It still gives me goosebumps!

What random or surprising encounters with Cornell or Cornellians have you experienced since you left?

When I arrived in Ecuador for training as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I met Jenny Weisent, a fellow Cornellian from the CALS Class of 1995. Despite studying in the same college for all four years and having quite a few friends in common, we had never met! Sometimes the world can be a strange place...

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?

Cornell has always been a part of my life. My parents both went to Cornell, my father spend much of his career there, and my sisters both went there, too. But being an alumnus of Cornell doesn't just give me another connection to my family, it connects me to a much bigger family that has made and continues to make so many positive contributions to the world. Go Big Red!