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Trading comfort for Peace Corps in Peru

FIU News, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 

Architect Olga Cano ’05 last year turned her life upside down. Wanting to help others and reset her professional priorities, she left a job with a Miami firm to enter a master’s program facilitated by the Peace Corps. The organization partners with more than 80 graduate schools across the country to allow American students to complement their graduate studies with volunteer work abroad. Cano will continue serving with the Peace Corps through 2014 in the Amazon region of Peru, after which she will complete an MS in environmental engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Why go into the Peace Corps when you were already an established professional?
Cano: I joined the Peace Corps because it was time to take my career in a different direction. After FIU, I worked in the architecture field for about seven years. While I enjoyed it, I found there was something missing. So in my free time I volunteered with various community-based grassroots organizations, such as Emerge Miami and Architecture for Humanity, which provided both personal and professional gratification.

Where does your interest in development work come from?
Cano: I am originally from Medellin, Colombia, and aware of the high rate of poverty in South America and the region’s need for access to basics such as food, water, health and education, to name a few. It has always been my interest to one day give back to the country I came from by investing my skills and knowledge in its improvement.

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