University at Albany
Two of Anthony’s students receive certificates for participating in a camp that teaches values and life skills through sports.

Q & A

Anthony Swingruber

Rockefeller MPA student and Peace Corps Master’s International Volunteer

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Assignment: Community Economic Development in Caazapá, Paraguay
Initiatives: Promoting youth leadership and entrepreneurship

How have your Rockefeller classes helped you in your experience in Paraguay?

One theme that is explored in several courses at Rockefeller College is the complex system within which actions influence outcomes. As Peace Corps volunteers, we are trained to work with citizens of our host sites to address needs that they’ve identified in their communities. Entering the Peace Corps experience with prior perspective on systems thinking has helped me to consider the underlying causes of problems that my community counterparts and I are working on, including youth unemployment and low civic participation. In addition, the analytical skills that I was able to refine while at Rockefeller, and during my internship at the New York State Department of Health, have helped me in my role monitoring and evaluating a national initiative to promote youth entrepreneurship.

Why did you choose to participate in PCMI?
On site in Caazapá, Paraguay
I was nominated for Peace Corps service back in 2010 but ultimately decided not to serve due to extenuating life circumstances at that time. Peace Corps continued to be something that I dreamed of doing when the time was right. I was also determined to study public administration in graduate school, but felt as if I’d only be able to do one or the other due to the required time and financial commitments. I was excited to learn that in addition to being a highly affordable, top-ranked public affairs school, Rockefeller College offered the Peace Corps Master’s International track as part of its academic program. The idea of being able to do a project as part of my MPA curriculum in a real world international setting while receiving guidance remotely from a professor was very appealing to me. I also found out that my service could be used toward course credit, which I wouldn’t have to pay tuition for. Pursuing PCMI through Rockefeller College has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, as I find myself in the middle of receiving a first-rate graduate education in public administration while simultaneously having a profound international experience in the Peace Corps.

What experience has been the most eye opening for you thus far in the Peace Corps?

Anthony's classroom in Caazapá, Paraguay
The initial months of service are all about integrating into your site so you can work well with community members. During this time, all volunteers deal with the awkwardness of adjusting to living in a new culture and speaking a different language. Although differences in culture certainly exist and present their challenges, the similarities between people back home and those that I’ve met in Paraguay are much more apparent. I find that we generally share the same values and have common life pursuits. Realizing this makes connecting with people easier.

What are your future plans?

Around the time I am finishing Peace Corps service and preparing to graduate from Rockefeller College, I intend to take the Foreign Service Officer Test, which is the first step for entry into the U.S. Department of State. Rockefeller College has been a great resource for me as I pursue a potential career in the Foreign Service. Rockefeller has connected me to alumni and faculty who work in the State Department. Getting their perspectives and career advice has been invaluable.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 Rockefeller College News Magazine.