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Friday, May 27, 2022

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Moderator Jeff Marston (background, far left) lead the alumni panel through a conversation about their experiences in the Peace Corps. Moderator Jeff Marston (background, far left) lead the alumni panel through a conversation about their experiences in the Peace Corps.

'Share Your Talent with the World'

The Peace Corps 50th anniversary celebration brought together students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members.
By Jordan Bowditch

For Colleen O’Conner, having a talent is more than a gift – there's an inherent social responsibility to share it with others.

“If you have a talent, don’t just sit on it,” she said during the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Celebration Wednesday night. “It is your social responsibility to share your talent with the world.”

O’Conner served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1968-70 in Turkey. Her statement seemed to capture the theme of the evening event.

Celebrating a five-decade partnership

More than 100 students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered as SDSU honored 50 years of excellence and service to the Peace Corps at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. The event, hosted by SDSU Career Services and Student Affairs, featured a panel of SDSU alumni who served as Peace Corps volunteers.

Five panelists shared their stories, including Refugio Rochin, one of the earliest participants in the Peace Corps. He served in Columbia from 1962-64, just two years after the program’s conception.

While many make a two-year commitment to the corps, there are others like Mark O’Donnell, who served the Peace Corps in various capacities for more than 10 years.

“I saw a Peace Corps commercial when I was in seventh or eighth grade, and I knew then that I wanted to join the Peace Corps when I was old enough,” O’Donnell said.

The SDSU-Peace Corps connection

Jeff Marston, president-elect of the SDSU Alumni Association and returned Peace Corps volunteer, served as the moderator. At the event’s start, panelists shared a brief personal biography including why they joined the Peace Corps and what they did in their respective countries. Each had a unique story to tell.

The event concluded with a chance for attendees to network with volunteers, recruiters and local community leaders.

More than 1,100 SDSU alumni have served as Peace Corps volunteers and, currently, 40 graduates are doing so in countries around the world. SDSU is recognized as one of the top two California State University campuses for Peace Corps recruiting.

This featured event was part of SDSU Month, a monthlong celebration of San Diego State. SDSU Month features 31 days of artistic, academic and athletic events, special offers from local businesses and a partner-supported media campaign to raise awareness of SDSU’s outstanding people and programs. For more information, visit