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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Jessica Hayes

Analyst, Law Enforcement
Centenary College of Louisiana, Class of 2005
Jessica L. Hayes is a law enforcement analyst living in Washington, DC. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in political science at Centenary College of Louisiana, she went on to serve in the United States Peace Corps in East Africa, Tanzania, from 2006–2008 as a health volunteer. She completed a master’s degree at American University’s School of Public Affairs in 2011 and completed a professional master’s certificate in African studies in 2013.
The value of a liberal arts education can be measured in variety of ways, most important of which I believe is the access to opportunities that it affords young graduates. Whether choosing to further their education with graduate studies or seek out internships and employment, the next step in life for a young student can be daunting—especially in today’s economy and competitive employment market. As a young alumna, I look back in awe and with great appreciation for what I have been able to do and accomplish in such a short time. Peace Corps. Graduate school degree. Employment in the career field of my choice. All are a result of my liberal arts education at Centenary College of Louisiana.
 
As a Peace Corps volunteer from 2006–2008 in a rural community in Southern Tanzania, I worked on numerous environmental, health, and education projects, integrated into the local culture, formed strong bonds with local community members, and learned to speak Swahili. I had great adventures. I have traveled via foot, bicycle, ferries, dugout boats, motorcycles, and airplanes to far off places like Zanzibar, Arusha, and Victoria Falls. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. My Centenary liberal arts education was a main contributor to my successful acceptance to and accomplishments during Peace Corps.
 

As a young alumna, I look back in awe and with great appreciation for what I have been able to do and accomplish in such a short time. Peace Corps. Graduate school degree. Employment in the career field of my choice. All are a result of my liberal arts education.

 
Although I majored in political science, a liberal arts education allowed me to not only specialize in one subject, but to be a more well-rounded and highly competitive candidate. Anticipating volunteering, I took electives in health sciences, world religions, history, and sociology giving me a good foundation of knowledge with which to build on while working 9,000 miles away from home. Giving a speech to thousands of villagers was no problem because I had taken courses in public speaking and acting at Centenary College. Writing a grant to obtain funds for a project was a breeze because I had taken courses that improved my writing and accounting courses to know how to manage grants while I was at Centenary College. Teaching children to play softball, gymnastics, and soccer came naturally to me because I was a student athlete at Centenary College. This list could go on and on.
 
My liberal arts education gave me the power to dream, the confidence to be independent and act on that dream, and the courage to explore the world beyond. It has given me an edge over my competition when vying for opportunities. Whether a recent graduate chooses to apply to Peace Corps, graduate school, or employment, having a liberal arts degree on your resume is invaluable.
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