Seven mission trips during four years of college might be more service than some people complete in a lifetime, but it's only a glimpse of what's ahead for Katherine Roesch.
The Glenville resident graduated from Alvernia University this month and is preparing to leave for a 27-month commitment with the Peace Corps.
"I can't imagine going anywhere else or doing anything else better for the next two years," said Roesch, 22.
She does not know yet which country she will be assigned to, but she will leave sometime between October and March.
Roesch said she does not care where she goes, but the islands in South Asia pique her interest.
She will train for three months with other Peace Corps members being sent to the same country, and then spend the next two years serving in that nation by herself.
"It's scary because you're leaving something that you're used to, but I'm ready for something new," Roesch said.
Peace Corps volunteers have served in 139 host countries since the program began in 1961, after President John F. Kennedy challenged young people to serve the United States for the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries, according to the Peace Corps website.
Currently, more than 9,000 volunteers are serving through the Peace Corps by working in education, health, business development, youth development and agriculture, according to the website.
An elementary education major at Alvernia, Roesch will now take on the role of a teacher in the Peace Corps.
Roesch is fluent in Spanish, but depending where she is sent, her training could include learning a new language.
"There is something unique about every culture, and it's interesting to get to know them and appreciate their differences," said Roesch.
Volunteer efforts: She has traveled to Kentucky,
Camden, N.J., Santo Domingo and Ecuador on mission trips during college. Those trips involved such widely differing duties as rebuilding houses, working with children in school programs, organizing food pantries and playing bingo with the elderly.
Roesch also volunteered with Holleran Center's South Reading Youth Initiative program (SRYI) for the past four years, tutoring and mentoring students and helping with summer camps.
"It doesn't matter what type of service you do. Anything you do for someone else might make the biggest difference. Even just a smile while crossing the street," said Roesch. "You're only here on earth once, so you want to make it count. I want to make a difference."
"I would like to make service the focal point for the rest of my life," she said. After the Peace Corps she hopes to spend time serving in the Dominican Republic with friends from college.
Roesch is the daughter of Bill and Maggie Roesch of Manheim Township. She has an older brother, Sean, 24, and a younger sister, Lauren, 20.