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Peace Corps Alumna Profile

Alexandra Ernst

  • Alexandra, 26, is from Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Serving in Mozambique as a health volunteer, since 2014
  • Attended Tulane University as a Master’s International student majoring in the Department of Global Health Management and Policy 

Main project/secondary projects
Implementing and improving the GAAC (community adherence support groups) program at our district hospital, the REDES Project, Malaria Task Force.

How did Tulane University help prepare you for international service or lead you to Peace Corps?
As an MI student, I participated in monthly meetings to discuss what serving in the Peace Corps would be like. Moreover, Tulane is known for its emphasis on global health work and the connections, among professors, researchers, students, and alumni, around the world. As such, I was able to direct my coursework and research to focus on topic areas and subject matters that equipped me with more knowledge and skills that I have been able to use as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique.

What/who inspired you to serve in the Peace Corps?
For me, joining the Peace Corps was a manifestation of my educational experiences and philosophical worldviews. That is to say, it was about serving a community where the injustice of health inequalities is not being addressed in the fullest ways possible when we have more means and abilities to do so. Therefore, I intentionally chose to pursue a master's in public health prior to my service, knowing that gaining more education would make me a better-equipped potential Volunteer in the health sector.

What are your career aspirations?
Following my Peace Corps service, I am seeking to continue my work in the international public health field with a specific focus on M&E (monitoring and evaluation) and program management of infectious disease interventions. Whether this work takes me to another country or brings me back to the United States, I know that my Peace Corps experience will have forever changed the way I approach global health work, international development, and community engagement in a diverse setting.

What’s been your favorite part of service?
Without question, the most enriching part of my service has been the relationships and cultural exchange that is so ingrained and inherent in Peace Corps service. The idea that relationships and spending time investing in a community, becoming a member of a community, and learning the culture and norms of a community first and foremost is so central to volunteers' time abroad. We spend our days building trust and fostering connections with neighbors and colleagues over shared meals and stories rather than focusing solely on deliverables and tangible results. It is the intangible growth of self, expansion of heart and soul, and the developed familiarity of a different culture that eventually becomes a part of one's own that makes Peace Corps service so special and unique.