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Combining passions for service, economics in the Peace Corps

New graduate Ian Fisher '18 desires to earn a doctorate in economics and use it to empower impoverished communities around the world. Although he was accepted into graduate programs for fall, Fisher decided to join the Peace Corps instead to gain relevant experience – a choice largely influenced by his experiences at Whitworth.

"My Whitworth education has greatly shaped and influenced this decision," he says. "Whitworth's education of mind and heart clearly has shaped a passion for service in me."

In July, Fisher began his two years with the Peace Corps in Panama City, Panama. As a sustainable agriculture and agribusiness volunteer, he will work directly with farmers to train them in best practices.

Fisher was a mathematical economics and math double major and Spanish minor. He had already visited Panama this year through a Whitworth Jan Term program on economic sustainability that also took him to Costa Rica. Two years earlier, he studied in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, through an intensive Spanish program.

"I chose to study abroad to gain new economic, political and social perspectives," Fisher says. "At first, I was hesitant. I was timid about confronting language and cultural barriers with others, but I have realized these experiences not only provided a means for viewing the world through a different lens, but an opportunity to hear and share stories with others."

During his Jan Term in Panama and Costa Rica, Fisher conducted field research in fishing villages and examined the positive and negative effects of globalization. The individuals he met while studying abroad had an impact on him.

"Having the opportunity to study abroad in these beautiful countries has kindled a desire to serve through the Peace Corps to touch lives in these rural communities who desperately need to be shown the love of Christ," he says.

Fisher's own faith was deepened at Whitworth.

"College presented me with the challenge of ultimately taking ownership of my faith and finding my walk with Christ," Fisher says. "Whitworth equipped me not only with the resources to achieve this but also with fantastic role models of faculty and staff who shepherded me along during my four years."

Fisher made the most of his time at Whitworth and was a leader on campus in many ways. Upon graduation, he was presented with an Alumni Ideals Award for exemplifying the mission and goals of Whitworth. He played on the tennis team and participated in several clubs. Especially meaningful for him was the Social Finance Club, which provides microloans to small-business owners around the world.

"I was immediately drawn to the club's mission to use microfinance as a tool to serve various communities through investment and social entrepreneurship," Fisher says. "This club gave me a fantastic opportunity to explore a hidden passion for development and microfinance, and I'd say it even helped lead me to my Peace Corps service."

Faith also strongly influenced Fisher's decision to join the Peace Corps.

"As Christians, we are called to love the least of these and let our lights shine in the darkness of the world," he says. "Although answering this call is easier said than done, it is my hope and prayer that serving with the Peace Corps will enable me to be this light to those around me."