Camille Pajor, residence hall director at Adelphi's Chapman Hall, had planned to attend law school but her Peace Corps experience helped inspire her to instead pursue an M.B.A.
by James Forkan“[Becoming a Peace Corps volunteer] was probably the best decision I’ve made, professionally and developmentally.”—Camille Pajor ’09
Her project management experience in the Peace Corps and more recently at Adelphi’s Chapman Hall have led Camille Pajor ’09 to detour from law to pursue an M.B.A. in Management at the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business.
In her 2009 graduation profile, Ms. Pajor said she had planned to attend law school and in 10 years be “working as an attorney”—a direction influenced by her five summers as a legal assistant at a Manhattan law firm. Today, however, she feels, “That’s not the right path for me.”
Eyeing her anticipated 2016 M.B.A., she said her career goal now is to hold a management position in the nonprofit sector.
Ms. Pajor, residence hall director (RHD) at Chapman Hall since April 2012, is also interim RHD at Waldo Hall and a past RHD at Earle Hall.
At Chapman, home to the Green Community, she oversees a variety of projects, most recently a free green-based alternative spring break. A pilot program starting In March 2014, the green spring break encompasses Monday–Friday educational, recreational and service opportunities for up to 35 students. These range from nature walks in Seatuck Environmental Association’s nature centers to helping erect fencing on Long Island beaches to protect the habitat of endangered piping plovers.
During an interview just days after the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and repeat showings of his Peace Corps exhortation to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” Ms. Pajor felt those words still resonate.
“[Becoming a Peace Corps volunteer] was probably the best decision I’ve made, professionally and developmentally,” she said.
Ms. Pajor, who estimated about 10 students a year approach her to learn more about the Peace Corps, showcases her Ukraine Peace Corps experiences (2009–2011) with glass-encased photos outside her Chapman Hall office plus others decorating an entire wall inside. Also framed on another wall: her Adelphi diploma and a 2011 Certificate of Recognition for Youth Development Work from the mayor of Kozova, Ukraine, for her 24-month service.
Although volunteers cannot choose their country assignments, they can suggest their general area preference. Ms. Pajor, whose parents are Polish and who is proficient in Polish, Ukrainian and Russian, gave her preference as eastern Europe—where 18 percent of its volunteers serve, according to peace corps.gov—after which she was assigned Ukraine, where she said Ukrainian is spoken in the western part of the country, Russian in the east.
As a TEFL (teacher of English as a foreign language) volunteer there, she taught students from the fourth to 11th grades, ranging in age from 10 into the 20s.
“You’re immersed in the culture there” in large part by living with a host family, she explained. It provided her with some unique experiences and lifelong memories. For instance, she had to butcher a goose for dinner and help in the family’s potato harvest. She also got tips on foods to avoid, such as blueberries still tainted by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster.
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