Peace Corps recruiter housed on-campus to encourage global volunteerism

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Sep 3, 2010

Sena Pierce
Sena Pierce
Beginning this Fall semester, UH Mānoa is employing a graduate assistant to serve as a dedicated Peace Corps representative. Sena Pierce, a graduate student in UH Mānoa’s Second Language Studies program and a returned Peace Corps volunteer, will work through the Office of International and Exchange Programs to encourage more students to pursue global volunteer service.
Currently, thirteen UH Mānoa alumni serve as Peace Corps volunteers around the world, and UH Mānoa counts many of its alumni among faculty and staff.
As the Peace Corps grows in advance of its 50th anniversary in 2011, the agency is looking to UH Mānoa as a source of more skilled volunteers for assignments in 77 countries.
“Since the start of the Peace Corps in the early 1960s, UH Mānoa has been an important partner. It has trained vast numbers of volunteers to serve in Asia and the Pacific, while we have reaped the benefits of having many returned volunteers serve as members of our faculty and staff, and filling our graduate programs,” said Edward “Ned” Shutlz, Dean of the School of Pacific and Asian Studies. “By having a recruiter housed on the Manoa campus, our students will be able to learn directly about the benefits of a Peace Corps experience and seriously consider this service at the conclusion of their studies.”

Pierce served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga from 2004-07. As a school-based community education volunteer, she lived on a remote outer island and, for two years, served as an English resource teacher for the island’s primary school. She was instrumental in establishing and supporting preschools, and gained government support for early childhood education, culminating with the establishment of a teacher’s training program and early childhood center. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Pierce produced a large-scale educational mural at the local school in Tonga.  
Upon completing service, Pierce took a position on the Pacific Country Desk at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Her experience there—serving as an English resource teacher, NGO coordinator and Pacific desk assistant—convinced her that the path to building capacity in the developing world is rooted in second language acquisition.
To help promote opening doors through language, specifically in the Pacific Islands, Pierce moved to Hawai‘i to pursue a master’s degree in Second Language Study at UH Mānoa.
“There is nothing like the Peace Corps. When I look around at my fellow returned volunteers and the paths they have taken since returning from service, I am awestruck at how much two short years have impacted the course of their entire lives,” said Pierce. “I feel extremely lucky to be in a position to introduce Peace Corps to those who may be the next to join this incredible legacy.”
Pierce will host regular office hours and cultural events on campus, and is now interviewing applicants for overseas assignments commencing in 2011. She may be reached at the UH Mānoa Peace Corps Office in room 220 of the Physical Science Building at 2565 McCarthy Mall, at (808) 956-0439 or online at