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International Studies Graduate Joins Peace Corps in Ghana, Africa

Suzanne PasztorSuzanne Pasztor, a 2006 International Studies graduate of the University of St. Thomas, is embarking on an adventure with the Peace Corps where she will work to reduce widespread poverty in Ghana, Africa by helping local entrepreneurs improve their business practices.

Pasztor, 62, has been assigned as a small enterprise development business advisor.  She said she enjoyed being a nontraditional student at UST and her degree has and will continue to assist her in this endeavor.

“I loved every minute I spent at St. Thomas,” Pasztor said.  “The International Studies degree and the cultural training I received will enhance my work with the Peace Corps.  I had the best time of my life here; everyone accepted me and it was wonderful.” 

Dr. Hans Stockton, director for the Center for International Studies, taught Suzanne in several courses.

“Suzanne already had a great deal of experience, keen intellect, and powers of observation by the time she came to UST,” Stockton said. “This made her a real joy to have in the classroom and as part of the CIS family.”

Joining the Peace Corps is not the first adventure Pasztor has undertaken in her life.  She lived in Europe for several years, moved with her husband to Mexico and Venezuela to study Spanish, worked at Yellowstone National Park for a season and lived and worked for a while in Alaska.

“I’ve known about the Peace Corps since it was created in 1961, but I first wanted to join after meeting a recruiter at a job fair in 2006,” said Pasztor.  “I went home and told my husband, ‘Let’s join the Peace Corps!’ but he said, ‘No way, we’re not going to do that.’”

After the unexpected death of her husband in 2008, Pasztor met another recruiter and decided to apply.  After two years of an intense application process, medical screenings and the loss of her initial nomination, Pasztor received the assignment to go to Ghana.

Pasztor reports on Oct. 4 to meet her team and leaves for Kukurantumi, Ghana on Oct. 6 where she will have 10 weeks of pre-service training.  She won’t know her exact location or assignment until she arrives for training. During her 10 weeks of training, Pasztor will live with a Ghanaian host family and is required to learn Twi, the most widely spoken of the 40 languages native to Ghana. 
“Twi is nothing like any of the Romance languages I’ve studied before,” Pasztor said. “It’s a tonal language – the tone can change the meaning of a word.  Ghana is a former British colony so the language of government and commerce is English, but we are expected to learn the language of our location and I’ll have to pass a language skills test after training.”

Pasztor said she will miss her two children and two grandchildren, but she plans to make a home visit after nine months in Ghana.

For more information about International Studies at UST, contact the department chair, Dr. Hans Stockton, at