For Elena Augustine ’07, the world truly is a classroom. Born into a diplomatic family in Washington, D.C., in 1985, she grew up on the move and living in capital cities, as her childhood and teenage days spanned one- to three-year sojourns in Bulgaria, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Austria and the United States. As a member of the Peace Corps’ pilot Youth Development Program in Kazakhstan, Augustine leads English clubs and builds an organizational structure that includes strategic planning and budget diversification. The program also provides Internet access, and the simpler pleasures of guitar and dance lessons.
As the youth are learning, so is Augustine. She arrived in the country knowing approximately 30 words of Russian and, in less than a year, her command of the language has accelerated to an intermediate level. She continues her formal education as a student in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, working towards a master’s in international administration, a degree offered in conjunction with the Peace Corps.
She first heard about Bucknell when a recruiter visited her high school in Austria and she subsequently discovered that both her grandmother, Margaret Schuyler Augustine ’30, and great-uncle, George Schuyler ’21, had attended the University. Although both died before she was born, Bucknell extended an important link to her family history.
Since Augustine had habituated herself to the buzz of cosmopolitan life, she came to Bucknell’s environs with a sense of adventure and a little trepidation. It was a new world, one that would provide her the structure and challenges to complete a triple major in English, political science and theater. According to Augustine, “Bucknell’s emphasis on service learning, and the opportunities I had, helped to point me toward a career working with international nonprofit organizations.” As a student, she participated in both the Bucknell Brigade (in Nicaragua) and the Northern Ireland Conflict Resolution Program. A resolute, deeply committed world citizen, Augustine concludes, “The path that led me here, to the work I do on a daily basis for the Peace Corps, is the one I started walking down at Bucknell.” — Maria Jacketti