Sunday, January 11, 2009

Recent College Grad Makes a Difference Around the World

The unedited version is below, but to see the article as it appeared on the website, click below: http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009901140402
Typically, graduating college means a general period of unbridled enthusiasm and then the seemingly unending job search, which can go on for months depending on the market. But recent Colgate graduate, Taylor Buonocore, actually had a job available to her once she finished school. She just didn’t take it.

“I had an internship in consulting, and received an offer [but I turned it down],” Ms. Buonocore says.

Instead, the history major, who graduated in Spring 2008, decided to spend her year after college doing something a little bit more altruistic, like traveling to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Galapagos Islands to do some volunteer work with Jatun Sacha, the largest Non-Governmental Organization in the country.

“I was really ready to be a part of something that’s actually bigger than me,” Ms. Buonocore says.

The decision came near the end of her senior year, when she was actually offered the position after her internship in consulting but decided against it.

“I had this advisor at Colgate, and he’d always tell you to think of a solution to a problem and rate it on a ten point scale,” Ms. Buonocore says, “And [consulting at this point] was obviously not a ten.”

What was a ten though was choosing to go to both South America and Africa, as those were the two continents she knew she wanted to travel to from the start.

“I already had an idea of what I wanted to do,” Ms. Buonocore says.

South America was her first trip, and her intention there was to deal with the environment. Her parents, at the time, were less than thrilled.

“My parents have always been supportive of everything I do,” Ms. Buonocore says, “But, like any parents, they were nervous, and for good reason. I wasn’t physically harmed [on my travels], but there were moments where I felt so unsafe and scared.”

She actually documents most of it in her blog, http://taylorbuonocore.blogspot.com/, where she talks about her travels in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, namely one specific event called “Bringing Water to People Who Need It.” In this blog entry, she details how she dug “irrigation lanes to help a community bring river water to their village.”

“Things started to turn around [by that point],” Ms. Buonocore says of why that blog entry was particularly special to her. “[By then, I felt that] no matter how tired you are, you keep going into that dirt.”

Ecuador will not be the end of her travels, though.

In February, Ms. Buonocore will be departing the U.S. for three more months to go to Tanzania to “volunteer with the Tanzania Children’s Fund and other organizations dedicated to improving the lives of orphans in Northern Tanzania.”

She’s going to be giving them an education. And while she doesn’t have to know their language, she’s already taken out a book in the Morris County Library on how to speak Swahili. She wants to connect with the kids as much as humanly possible.

With all this traveling though, Ms. Buonocore still hasn’t lost touch with life over here in America. In fact, she still stays in contact with her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, which actually offered her $1,100 dollars to pay for her trip in Tanzania.

“I applied for a grant and the Kappa Alpha Theta fund [gave me the money],” Ms. Buonocore says.

And then, there’s still life after her globe trotting adventures come to an end, as she still plans to eventually go into consulting.

“There’s definitely something to say about my internship,” Ms. Buonocore says, “but [just because I’ll be working in an office in the future], that’s not to say I still won’t be exploring. It will just be in a different connotation.”
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