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Lauren Breland, B.A. '05

Lauren Breland, B.A. '05, is a long-time Peace Corps professional, teaching in Thailand and now in South Africa.

I was a very active student; I won the UB Sigma Omicron award in 2000 and am an engaged alumna attending various functions. I want UB to know that I went on to do good things. I just finished three years in Thailand in the Youth In Development program and am heading to South Africa for two years as an English teacher to 4-6 graders.

I graduated with a B.A. in Human services Administration, then worked in almost every sector under the umbrella. My position in the Peace Corps in Thailand was as a Youth in Development volunteer. My group’s focus was to create life skills programs to assist in creating a path for youth―academically, professionally, and personally. In my village, the goal was decreasing drug use and teen pregnancy. The Peace Corps will assess your skills and experiences and link them with a country and program. I had no desire to choose where I would serve. I was placed in Thailand.

Thailand is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was located in the south, in the province of Surat Thani. My village was located in the second highest mountain range. Ninety percent of local income came from rubber plantations, premium fruits, and palm oil, in addition to growing pineapples, bananas, poultry and vegetables. Every turn of the head gave you a view of lush mountains, rivers, lakes, and crops.

I developed very close relationships with community members, who I now consider family and friends. And I loved the freshness of the food―literally going out back and plucking herbs and spices directly from the ground, the bushes, and trees. Also, 97 percent of the people of Thailand are practicing Buddhists. I found the rituals and observances to be natural and interesting.

I attended UB during the time when students were required to have 60 credits prior to enrollment. I felt comfortable at UB―I returned to school after being laid off in my 30s, and the environment was very welcoming to older students. I participated in several campus clubs and felt welcomed. That experience helped me feel "right" and gather the courage to go into the Peace Corps at my age.

You can learn and perform in almost any arena after completing your studies at UB. Spread your talent about. Keep your enthusiasm for learning and maintain a healthy level of fascination in everything. Those two inner resources will fuel the adventurous you to step outside our borders and see more of the world.

NOTE: In 2016, Breland received a John F. Kennedy Service Award for Volunteers – one of only two in the Peace Corps selected for such an honor.

Last Published 7/14/17