Alum’s study abroad experience sparks career in humanitarian aid

Maribeth Black ’07 works with Catholic Relief Services in the Central African Republic.

Bullets streaking by and grenades exploding to the cries of angry looters did not dampen Gettysburg alum Maribeth Black’s resolve to continue making a difference through her work with the Catholic Relief Services in the Central African Republic.

After graduating in 2007 with a degree in French and a concentration in international relations, Black pursued a career in humanitarian aid, serving in the Central African Republic, Turkey, and Pakistan.  Despite the daily potential of danger due to political unrest, Black has persevered with her mission to help people in need.

Maribeth BlackHer interest in working abroad was sparked during her sophomore year at Gettysburg when she studied abroad in Avignon, France. It was her first time leaving the United States, and her first time witnessing the world’s problems first hand. While she expected to advance her French and work on her minor, she never considered how living abroad would open her eyes to many issues going on in the world.

It was while working in a soup kitchen that she began to notice the large number of North African families coming in for meals. This prompted her to investigate the cause and learn more about why these people had fled their homeland and why they were still struggling. From this point on, wherever she traveled, she began to “strive to ascertain a greater understanding of the political and social complexities of the world.”

Between her drive to continue helping out abroad, and the support of her faculty advisors Florence Jurney and Prof. Eileen Stillwaggon, she was encouraged to study abroad a second semester, and continue to help abroad post-grad. It’s looking back now that she realizes how Prof. Stillwaggon (the current Harold G. Evans-Eisenhower Professor at Gettysburg) instilled in her a drive to do her best work that remains with her today. It is with that passion that she continues to provide help, food, shelter, and support to those displaced and defeated due to political uprisings and war. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in ones own problems and issues here at home, but Black knows the importance of being aware of the struggles of others. She isn’t sure what exactly she will be doing in five years, but she is sure that she will continue her humanitarian mission as she continues to endeavor to, “make a difference in the world acting as a voice to people in remote places that says, ‘you are not forgotten.’”

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Article by: Macy Collins, communications and marketing intern
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803.

Posted: Sun, 16 Mar 2014

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