UK History Major to Join Peace Corps After Graduation

By Dara Vance

Kenneth Adams is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.  After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Kentucky, he will spend 27 months as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia.   He is not sure what his living situation will be, he has no set daily routine, and his access to electricity and the internet will be intermittent at best – but Kenny says he is prepared for the experience. 

Kenny will be working in the Peace Corps organization, Rural Aquaculture Promotion (RAP) that focuses on tilapia farming.  Adams grew up on a dairy farm in Grayson County, Kentucky, but is unfamiliar with aquaculture.  He will most likely be working as a representative of the Zambian government to assist farmers with everything from applying for funding to maintaining existing tilapia farms. “I will get three months of training when I first arrive.  But there will also be a lot of on-the-job learning.  I won’t have a set, daily job – it is going to change every day depending on the needs of the area.”

At UK Adams studies world religions and cultures, along with Arabic language.  He was originally drawn to history in order to understand how different cultures live by studying their social practices, particularly religion.  Adams explains, “My degree in history taught me how to ask better questions and respond to others.  In the humanities there is no right answer because it depends…it always depends on something else.”  Adams also credits the diverse demographics of the College of Arts and Sciences with helping him create valuable connections.  He has taken history classes that cover Asian, British, European, American, and Middle Eastern histories and developed friendships with former Peace Corp volunteers. “My education has been very multi-cultural.  I have been able to connect with people from so many different religions and cultures and learn so many different perspectives.” 

Adams parents are not quite as enthusiastic for his travels.  “My dad is worried for my safety.  My mom goes back and forth.  Some days she supports it, others days she says I can’t go.”  But Adams is strongly committed to engaging in service work and supporting the Peace Corps mission.  His three main goals for his work in Zambia are developing food security, promoting American culture, and developing an understanding of Zambian culture to facilitate a true exchange of ideas.    As for his long-term goals, Adams is not sure what the future will bring.  “Maybe a master's degree in development or middle eastern studies?  Its hard to say because the Peace Corp is going to change my life.”

According to Peace Corps recruiter Angela Hamilton, many alum of the University of Kentucky have volunteered for the Peace Corps.  Since it was started in 1961, 303 UK grads have served in the Peace Corps, making UK the largest Peace Corps Volunteer-producing school in Kentucky.  In 2014, 20 UK alumni were in the field serving in 17 different countries.  To learn more about what opportunities are available contact Angela Hamilton, Peace Corp Recruiter: (502) 303-5358

For Kenny’s full interview listen here:

To keep up with Kenny’s adventure follow his blog:

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