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Darla Moore School of Business

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Pandemic cancels alumna’s Peace Corps assignment, provides a new career opportunity

Moore School alumna Allison Thompson (’18 international business and finance) was stationed in Uganda as a member of the Peace Corps in 2020 until growing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic ended her service early.

Thompson said that her decision to join the Peace Corps was influenced by her international business studies at the Moore School. Having the opportunity to study abroad as an undergraduate student and the international business coursework exposed her to the “countless negative social and environmental externalities that past and current globalization has caused.”

“[This exposure] lit a fire in me to continue learning about this aspect of globalization in the real world to better prepare me for a career in research and policy,” Thompson said.

During her time at the Moore School, Thompson said she became a more passionate, curious leader who values integrity. She said her studies empowered her to be an ethical and well-prepared volunteer in Uganda. Spending almost two years as a volunteer has “drastically changed” her worldview and perspective on development work.

“A typical day in Uganda included hand washing clothes and dishes in a bucket; biking three kilometers from my village to the peri-urban center where I worked; visiting farmers in nearby villages by motorcycle with my counterpart; and cooking and eating dinner with my neighbor/best friend, Brendah, her one-year-old daughter, Jessie, and my dog, Bear,” she said.

On March 19, 2020, Thompson received notice from Peace Corps Global that all posts were being evacuated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing travel restrictions.

“We were given 24 hours’ notice to pack a bag and report to our consolidation hotel in Entebbe, Uganda, near the airport,” Thompson said. “The abruptness of this evacuation resulted in unfinished projects and many friends and coworkers I was unable to say goodbye to.”

As Thompson only had three months left in her 27-month commitment to the Peace Corps, the organization canceled the remaining time for her cohort, making her unable to return to Uganda after the evacuation order is lifted.

Since returning to the U.S., Thompson has started a new role as a Program Analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Mission Support (OMS). In this position, she works on two team assignments in both the web and audit areas.

“My first team assignment is the OMS Web Services Team where I am the Internet Specialist overseeing all OMS web areas on epa.gov, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the Careers web area (epa.gov/careers),” she said. “My second assignment is the OMS Audit Coordination Team. My team acts as the primary point of contact between auditors and OMS program offices when they are under investigation by the Agency’s Office of Inspector General or the U.S. Government Accountability Office.”

Although the subject matter of both her team assignments are unique to the agency and are learned mostly from on-the-job training, Thompson said that she finds herself using the skills that she gained from the Moore School on a daily basis.

“The skills I learned from the Moore School that I use most in my current role are probably networking, professionalism and adaptability,” she said. “Both my assignments require substantial amounts of communication with high-level managers and senior leadership, so the ability to build relationships, especially virtually, in order to achieve agency-wide targets is very important.”

Beginning this role in the middle of a global pandemic was not ideal, but Thompson has been able to adjust to her new working environment. She has been working remotely for six months now and said she has already gained so much knowledge.

“The virtual onboarding process was definitely a bit strange, but I am happy to say I’ve found unique ways to connect with my colleagues and have learned a lot about the agency,” she said.

Thompson said she looks forward to future years of federal service and hopes to one day attain her master’s degree in Environmental Policy.

-Erin Mooney/Claire McGrath


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