Today, Meagan Rioux ’14 officially started a two-year adventure. She is in the process of moving to Namibia as a member of the Peace Corps. When she arrives and gets settled in, Rioux will begin training as a small enterprise and entrepreneurship development volunteer.
Plans call for Rioux to promote small-scale economic development, entrepreneurial actions, and sound business skills in Namibian communities.
“My passion towards economic development came in response to the flood crisis in Peru and my time as volunteer in the spring of 2017,” she explained. “It is quite hard to imagine what devastation looks like until you experience it firsthand, and I was able to witness both the economic and emotional effects of the disaster.”
Rioux said the experience inspired her to create improved solutions and community development initiatives. In order to do so, she believes, a person must build relationships within the community and understand their way of life. “This ultimately led me to my decision to join the Peace Corps.”
A native of Granville, Ohio, she credits what she learned at Culver with leading her to this decision. “At Culver, I found friendships that were like family and mentors that really pushed me to become the best version of myself,” she said via email just before she left.
“It was at Culver that I really began to understand what being a leader really meant – it truly means to inspire and encourage others. Which led me into my decision to go into the Peace Corps to motivate individuals and help them grow into their fullest potential.”
After Culver, Rioux attended Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, where she will graduate with a degree in business finance and economics this spring. As an undergraduate, she worked with various organizations in the Roanoke area and organized a 5K walk/run event to benefit those affected by Hurricane Harvey. She is also the co-founder of Rueblix, an urban contemporary art management and promotional agency, and the founder of Confiance Dance, a non-profit dedicated to enriching children’s lives through dance.
Rioux will spend her first three months in Namibia living with a host family so she can become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After additional training, she will then be assigned a community, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.
As a small enterprise and entrepreneurship development volunteer, Rioux will use a combination of formal training, business workshops, and one-on-one mentoring to teach entrepreneurship and basic business skills in incubators and similar environments. She will also be seeking opportunities within the community to promote gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment.
Rioux will be one of more than 145 Peace Corps volunteers in Namibia. Peace Corps volunteers develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will position them for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
“I hope to gather a better understanding of the developing world and how I can integrate myself into development work,” she said. “They say that the ‘Peace Corps is the toughest job that you will ever love,’ and I am excited for what lies ahead.”