A former Camas High School varsity swimmer is now making a difference with the Peace Corps in South Africa. Kelsey Lynch, 22, recently left Washougal to begin pre-service training as a volunteer science teacher. After graduating from eight weeks of cultural and language training, she will begin teaching science to primary school children and teaching HIV/AIDS prevention.
Lynch said she was inspired to join the Peace Corps because of her family.
“My mom’s brother died from AIDS before I ever got the chance to know him,” she said. “Growing up, I became very interested in the education and prevention of the disease because of what my family had gone through. I wanted to help other families that were affected by the disease and help teach younger generations how to protect themselves.
“The Peace Corps’ values really support the use of education as a means of helping not only the current generations in Third World countries, but also providing the tools to continue education for future generations,” Lynch added. “That was really the selling point for me. I wanted to help provide long term change rather than just short term support.”
She will be in South Africa for 27 months.
“I have wanted to volunteer in Africa since I was in high school, so I was thrilled with my placement in South Africa,” Lynch said. “I think that it will be a fabulous place to be an educator.”
Lynch, a 2008 CHS graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and general biology in May from Washington State University, in Pullman. She is the daughter of Julie Jensen and Joe Lynch.
“My family has been very supportive of my choice to join the Peace Corps,” Lynch said. “I can’t even count the number of people who have told me they wish they had done something like this when they were my age. Comments like that help me realize I am making the right decision.”