Cornell College students ready to serve as Peace Corps volunteers

Two Cornell College seniors are preparing to pack up and leave the country.


Kaylee Wohlenhaus
Kaylee Wohlenhaus ’16
Maria Goodfellow '16
Maria Goodfellow ’16

The Peace Corps has selected Maria Goodfellow ’16 and Kaylee Wohlenhaus ’16 to serve as volunteers. It’s a selective application process that allows those who are chosen to help people around the world.

Both will train for three months once they arrive to their assigned location, then they’ll dedicate two years to the people living in their new communities.

Goodfellow, a biology major, is scheduled to work in Paraguay.

“Really, as a Peace Corps volunteer, you essentially get placed somewhere and you do almost whatever that community needs you to do,” Goodfellow said. “My focus will be helping small-scale family farms and families, in general, to help improve gardening or farming techniques that they are using. I’ll also show them how they can supplement their diet with things that they can farm easily and things they can also sell to improve their income.”

Wohlenhaus will make her way to the landlocked country of Burkina Faso in West Africa.  The Cornell College English literature major will teach English in the schools there.

“I have always wanted to teach English as a foreign language, and this is a great way to go about doing that,” Wohlenhaus said. “I’m also really interested in community development, and this is also a good way of doing that. The reason I picked the Peace Corps is because it combined both of my interests.”

Both seniors said their experiences at Cornell played a big part in their decision to volunteer with the Peace Corps and their selection into the program.

Goodfellow said a professor sparked  her interest in the program just weeks into her career at Cornell. It happened during her First-Year Seminar, which every incoming first-year student takes.

“In the anthropology class we read a memoir from a return Peace Corps volunteer,” Goodfellow said. “I just totally plowed through it. I loved it, and I didn’t know it at the time, but the author of that book was actually a really good friend of our professor’s who taught at some other small school in Iowa. I decided to do my final presentation in the class on the Peace Corps and also his book. My professor invited him to come watch that presentation and speak to the class.”

Wohlenhaus believes her extracurricular activities on campus helped her to prepare.

“I think that my Cornell education is really great and that’s the main thing Cornell has prepared me for this as well as being able to be involved in a lot of different things on campus,” Wohlenhaus said. “I was a resident assistant and held leadership positions in some clubs and I have been able to organize a lot of things. So, I feel like once I get to my community I will be able to teach while also organizing things.”

The Peace Corps program includes a monthly living and housing allowance. Both students will make their way to their assigned countries this summer.

For more information, contact Cornell College Public Relations Director Jill Hawk at 319.895.4232 or email