Anthropology alumna joins Peace Corps, makes her way to Paraguay

Spring break is over, but the adventures aren’t.

Not that Alex Morton needed a break from school; she graduated in spring of last year with her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. It hasn’t been a full year since she walked the stage, but 22-year-old Morton is already walking the globe: last Monday she left for Paraguay, where she’ll be serving with the Peace Corps for the next two years.

“I decided to join the Peace Corps in order to help those in need,” Morton wrote in an email. “I hope to make an impact; even if I just impact one person’s life, I will feel accomplished.”

Morton said she has always wanted to join the Peace Corps and was further convinced by an anthropology professor that spoke of his own experience with the Corps. She applied herself in March 2014, wanting to get started right away.

Before her actual service, Morton said she will spend three months in training, where she will review language and technical skills and the new culture she will be working in.

After that, she will work in the community economic development sector of the Peace Corps, where she said she will help small businesses, youth and others improve their economic understandings, abilities and agencies. She says she would like to work with youth, but won’t know her specific location and tasks until the training staff gets an idea of her strengths and weaknesses.

“I find it very important that the Peace Corps works with the people of the community in order to better the community as opposed to just imposing,” Morton wrote.

Those who knew Morton at OU knew her as a very involved student; she was a member of the Honors College, a member of the Anthropology Club, an employee at the Rec Center and a study abroad participant multiple times.

“It’s very gratifying to see a student that is actually interested in the world and what they learned here and putting it into practice,” said Michael Pytlik, director of OU’s Judaic Studies Program.

Morton worked with Pytlik through the Archaelogy of Israel study abroad program, which took students to biblical sites for excavation and research work. The work is not easy, he said, but Morton was determined, highly motivated, and open to new experiences.

That’s not the only place she’s been to — Morton said she’s been to twenty countries in all so far.

She’s just getting started.

“I also joined for the experience; I love to learn about other cultures,” Morton wrote. “This will be another life-changing experience that will help me grow personally and professionally.”

Pytlik and others who know Morton, such as close friend and fellow 2014 graduate Megan Zarachowicz, said there is no doubt the Peace Corps is the right fit for her.

“She is definitely going to do some great things in the world,” Zarachowicz said. “She’s a bold person and I’m just excited to see what she’s going to do in her lifetime.”