Graduate’s study abroad experience shapes career plans

Graduating senior Lacey Dean ’11 studied in Dakar, and is now heading back to Africa to find a career path that revolves around humanitarian outreach.

In Dakar, Senegal, Dean lived with a host family, volunteered at two orphanages, spoke French and began learning the Wolof language. Once summer ends she’ll return, to work and volunteer for at least a year.

“I only have one life to live so it’s important not to allow these opportunities to pass me by,” Dean says. “I believe I need to be passionate about a career in order to be fully engaged and happy. I know that not everyone is able to find those avenues, but I hope I can.”

Best thing about Linfield:

“The school supports academics and social transformation at the same time. Linfield nurtures a self-searching atmosphere, where you can find your niche.”

Favorite professors:

“Rob Gardner, who gave me life changing experiences in his service learning courses. He was able to connect courses with people.

“Jeff Peterson, who shared his passion for traveling and talked with me about international opportunities.

“There are life processes that you need to discuss, and both professors spent a lot of time outside of the classroom talking to me.”

Community engagement:

As part of a service learning course, Dean interviewed homeless families and individuals to help Yamhill County understand their needs.

“My family was an engaged family,” she says. “My mom would drop me off at school, kiss me goodbye, and then say, ‘Be kind to others.’ Kindness is needed everywhere.”

What I learned at Linfield:

“My Linfield education taught me ask questions and to respect differences. As a sociologist, my goal is to understand human beings, to know why we do what we do, where our suffering and happiness comes from. Wherever my home is, there is need. I want to understand and help my community.”

Another face of homelessness

Dean’s quote is included in a guest column submitted by Linfield Professor Robert Gardner and published in The Oregonian:

“It only takes one person to start a ripple of change. Neither I, nor anyone else, can really grasp or fix every social problem, but we can start using our resources and our beautiful human ability to create connections and to find the small solutions that will create the big solution.”