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Farmer School Alum Joins Peace Corps, Finds His Passion Through Social Entrepreneurship

January 2012

With a 2008 bachelor's degree in finance, Miami and Farmer School grad David Szaronos started a job as a systems consultant in Chicago. But after a few months, he decided to "do some soul searching" and followed the advice of Miami friends and a professor: to follow a path that aligned with his love of meeting new people, seeing new places and experiencing new things.

Szaronos contacted a friend who was in the Peace Corps, and now he is two months away from completing his own two-year Peace Corps service in Uganda.

As a community and economic development volunteer, Szaronos, 26, from Powell, Ohio, helped a community organization co-found a small vocational school. He trained the local leadership committee and procured most of the materials for the school and helped locate and hire other staff. He also has helped find alternative modes to promote economic development in his community by founding a micro-enterprise in Ave Maria Bead Co., establishing micro-finance groups (Village Savings and Loan Associations) and consulting for already established small businesses and farms.

The Ave Maria Bead Co. was recently selected as one of two Peace Corps Uganda success stories of the year.

"I realize now how much my semester in Luxembourg impacted my decision to join Peace Corps. My experience in MUDEC (Miami University Dolibois European Center) taught me how much I loved going to new places, meeting new people and experiencing new things. I think a lot of people who spend time there feel that way after they come home. I guess for me, that feeling never went away," said Szaronos.

His time in Uganda has influenced Szaronos' life and career plans. "Peace Corps changes you in so many ways. Some things are subtle, and some are major I may return home an entirely different person."

Next fall, he will start classes at UCLA's Anderson School of Management with a plan to focus on social entrepreneurship. "One day, I hope to start a firm that provides native, socially responsible entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa with strategic advice, financial guidance, and access to capital."

This article was originally published and distributed via Miami University's office of University Communications and Marketing.