Colin Hartke ’08

(served in Mozambique from 2012-2014)

Colin studied Communications (journalism) and Spanish at PLU. Highlights of his time at PLU outside of wonderful experiences in the classroom and building friendships that he still treasures today were: studying abroad in Spain, working on student media and completing three internships (including at KNKX, NPR member station).

Colin always wanted to join the Peace Corps. He remembers watching a very cheesy comedy called Volunteers from the 1980s with Tom Hanks (no Academy Award for this role!) and John Candy when he was a kid. The plot centers around being in the Peace Corps. He learned more about the Peace Corps when he was in high school, at PLU, and then while working after he graduated. It stuck with him. It seemed like a great way to have the right amount of time to settle into another place and work on exciting projects.

During his Peace Corps service he worked in a small town in rural Northern Mozambique, near the border with Malawi. His work focused on two areas: 1) He partnered with the local health clinic and community groups on prevention and care activities (mainly focused on HIV and malaria, the #2 and #1 causes of death in Mozambique) 2) He collaborated with a small farming co-operative to help the farmer-owners set up systems and processes that helped them drive growth. Outside of his major projects, he worked with several groups for kids to help them build knowledge about overall health and particularly HIV. His favorite memories are sitting outside on warm evenings to watch amazing Mozambican sunsets with the friends that he made and simply shoot the breeze with some very wonderful people.

He is currently working for Quest Diagnostics, a large medical/clinical laboratory, on communications and marketing projects. At the same time, he is in a Masters of Public Health program through the University of Washington. His Peace Corps experience definitely guided his decision to pursue a Masters of Public Health. After finishing up his service in Mozambique, he knew he wanted to work in one of the two areas that he’d had the honor to focus on: public and community health or small business development. He hopes that he’s able to work with both areas throughout his career.