During two years in Africa, working to save cheetahs from extinction and helping prevent the spread of infectious disease among humans, Nick Boire learned just how useful a Gettysburg College education can be.
"Gettysburg provided an excellent background for my Peace Corps experience," said the 2007 graduate. "You have to be resourceful, and my experiences at Gettysburg certainly prepared me for that. My interdisciplinary studies gave me a multifocal way to examine every situation that popped up while I was in Africa."
Boire - a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Baldwin, N.Y. - has always wanted to volunteer with the Peace Corps and travel the world. He got his wish in 2007, after he applied to the Peace Corps and was dispatched to Namibia, a land known for safaris, diamonds, frequent visitor Angelina Jolie, and a high rate of HIV infection.
His Gettysburg experience applied directly to his first assignment. In Prof. Steve James' Bioinformatics course, Boire had researched the HIV virus, analyzing its genetics, replication, and transmission. Lessons of the lab became lifesaving information for the people of a village called Usakos, where Boire served as a youth officer, educating residents about everything from HIV to nutrition to drug and alcohol abuse.
His major at Gettysburg played an even more prominent role in his next assignment, as a geneticist with the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), which strives to protect the animals and their habitat. Though Namibia boasts the world's largest and healthiest natural cheetah population, the species remains endangered and therefore subject to serious inbreeding and weakened offspring. To help unravel the breeding predicament, Boire labored in the lab alongside renowned cheetah experts. The magnitude of the problem created an "all hands on deck" urgency, said Boire, whose intense hands-on involvement also included helping to rehabilitate cubs, working in pens, and managing volunteers.
Find out about the Peace Corps experiences of other Gettysburg alums here.
When he was done with his two-year commitment, Boire took the modest resettlement allowance granted to him by the Peace Corps and pursued another life-long dream - traveling the world. Along with some friends from the Peace Corps, he journeyed from South Africa through eastern Africa, then on to Egypt and Israel, through Central Europe and finally on to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
After visiting 22 countries in six months, Boire admitted that returning to life in the States took some adjustment, but his focus is clearer than ever. After witnessing the effects of typhoid, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, and other maladies in Africa, he is committed to microbiology and immunology and has applied to Ph.D. programs in related fields.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803Posted: Fri, 18 Feb 2011
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