Holy Cross Alumnus One of First Peace Corps Volunteers to Return to Overseas Service Since 2020

Peace Corps volunteers pose for a group photo inside a conference room.

Tiernan Naughton ’21 will serve as an agricultural extension agent in Ghana until 2026.

College of the Holy Cross alumnus Tiernan Naughton ’21 is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020.

"The call of public service attracted me to apply for the Peace Corps," said Naughton, an international studies and Chinese minor. "I hope my experience is the beginning of a long international development career."

While the Peace Corps was recalling nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naughton was making the sudden and expected transition of leaving his study abroad location in China.

After graduation and working for a year in technology sales, Naughton was able to return to the region when he had the opportunity to study at National Taiwan University in its international Chinese language program. While there, he learned of his acceptance into the Peace Corps and the opportunity to be an agricultural extension agent in Ghana.

While he doesn’t have an agricultural background and has never been to Ghana, Naughton says he was raised in a family committed to serving others domestically and internationally. His time at Holy Cross only reinforced his plan to apply to the Peace Corps prior to his graduation in 2021, he added.

"It’s definitely a time commitment, but the Peace Corps seemed to be a great way to serve and learn about and from another culture," he said.

He left for Africa in mid-January and will remain in Ghana for more than two years immersed in the cashew, honey or shea butter farming communities: "I hope to share what I learned when I come back. I know there’s a large Ghanaian population and organization in Worcester and would love to do some work with them."

The current Peace Corps volunteer cohorts are made up of first-time volunteers and volunteers evacuated in early 2020 due to the pandemic. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps’ six sectors: agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development. All will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work.