Charlotte Emilie Steppling, A '12, GA '13, originally from San Francisco, is a third year extension Education Volunteer in the Peace Corps. She lives in a rural village on the East Coast of Madagascar and teaches at the local high school. A passionate photographer, innovative thinker and world traveler, Charlotte is thoroughly enjoying her service. Her village has stolen her heart with its generosity, love and hope.
She works in conjunction with Operation Smile, whose aim is to help children born with cleft lip and cleft palate and has recently interned at a local maternity clinic. Also in her stint abroad, she collaborates with a health clinic to educate new mothers and pregnant women about prenatal health care, nutrition, and infant health.
When asked how her Duquesne education impacted her current role, Charlotte replies, "My studies at Duquesne opened my mind to the idea of service and giving back on a larger scale. I have been able to become the leader I am today due to the skills I learned during my time on the Bluff. The education I received at Duquesne enhanced my social consciousness and raised my awareness of global issues and of the need to help. Throughout my education at Duquesne [B.A. in Sociology/M.A. in Social and Public Policy], I met amazing professors and interacted with a diverse peer group--which inspired me to give back and devote my career and life to helping others. I was interested in joining the Peace Corps at a young age, but the interactions I had at Duquesne solidified the decision to serve abroad. The one-on-one interaction with professors, the team atmosphere, and the professionalism I experienced during my time at Duquesne made a major impact."
At Duquesne, Charlotte met multiple Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and international students. Those interactions led to her open-mindedness and taught her how to work with people of different cultures. Charlotte continues, "The idea of teams and teamwork permeated my time at school. I learned how to work in teams, lead group exercises, and how to speak publicly. Somehow, during those late nights writing my thesis or rushing to grab lunch between classes, I learned how to think constructively, problem solve, and show commitment to my work. I am thrilled to utilize my leadership skills in the implementation of projects in under-developing countries."
Her latest accomplishment was opening a community center, where her GoFundMe campaign has made her dream a reality. The idea began in 2014, when community members reached out expressing interest in starting a center where people of all ages could gain knowledge, expand their education, and develop themselves in a safe and positive environment. In the fall of 2015, Charlotte opened the Cultural Center of Hope. Members range from kindergarteners to adults and pay a nominal participation to gain unlimited access to a library and choice of French, English, computer skills, sewing classes and dance classes. The Center now boasts of 1300 members. You can read more about Charlotte and her work on her blog, barefootinmada.wordpress.com/author/charlottesteppling/