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Office of Communications
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401
Major in Biology, minors in Economics and Biochemistry
Where are you volunteering with the Peace Corps and what are you doing?
I am an agricultural extension volunteer in Cameroon. I will learn the specifics of my projects as my in-country training progresses, and as I am assigned a community to work in. Generally, as an agriculture volunteer, I will be working with smallholders and family farmers to promote efficient farmland management, create integrated and sustainable farming systems, and encourage agriculture as a means of economic stability.
When did you first start wanting to pursue international service?
I have always been interested in traveling and discovering new places, but this took on a whole new meaning when I studied abroad in Denmark. Even though Denmark is a very western country, there are huge cultural and economic differences compared to the U.S. The U.S., Denmark, and all the other countries I have lived in or visited have varying ways of measuring growth and success. I find this concept incredibly interesting, and I view international service as an opportunity to learn how communities have flourished given their respective resources.
What Knox resource was the most helpful to you in getting where you are now?
My time at Knox was a roller coaster. I came to college thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but Knox opened dozens of doors that I didn't even know existed. That said, my professors were my most helpful resource. In one way or another, each professor I encountered managed to make what they were teaching engaging, and they allowed me to gain the perspective I have today.
And a special shout-out to my academic advisor, [Professor of Biology and Chair of Neuroscience] Judy Thorn, for being patient through my roller coaster. Not only is she an incredible scholar and role model, she made sure I always felt like there were opportunities ahead, even when the ride felt bumpy. Without her guidance, I am sure I would have never considered the academic or career choices I am considering today.
Tell about something you learned at Knox that has helped you find success outside the realm of academics.
Serving on the Knox College Honor Board was incredibly influential. While it was the most brutal job I have had thus far, I learned more about myself than I did in any other experience at Knox. My definition of integrity became much more complex as I began to serve on the Board, and it has become an integral part of my daily life. This new definition set expectations for how I should perform in a classroom or work setting, it has shown me what I am physically and mentally capable of achieving, and it has taught me how to be an authentic version of myself. Everything I have accomplished since joining the Board has been partially related to the value of integrity that Knox and I share.
Describe something from Knox—a place, an event, a person, or anything—that you will always cherish.
As a first-year I joined the women's Water Polo team, and instantly I knew I'd found a new family at Knox. We didn't do so well my first year, but we picked up some great players my sophomore year and achieved the best season the program had seen in years. The team continued to progress the next few years and we set our hopes high for a conference championship my senior year.
We played the best I had ever seen our team play, but unfortunately, couldn't hold off Wash U in the final game. We placed second for the third year in a row, and honestly, we felt pretty defeated. But sitting with my team after the game, crying together, laughing together, and feeling an overwhelming sense of strength—despite placing second—is one of my fondest memories.
Where do you see yourself going after the Peace Corps?
As of right now, I see myself applying to veterinary school and pursuing a career in large animal or wildlife medicine. That being said, I am fully aware of how quickly things can change and how many opportunities this world has. I am hoping to use my time in the Peace Corps to find some clarity in my interests, and possibly explore career options in sustainable agriculture or conservation biology. Stay tuned!
"I came to college thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but Knox opened dozens of doors I didn't even know existed."—Bonne Matheson '17