There are two usual routes students take after graduating college:
Apply to grad school or start the hunt to find a job.
And while many young adults feel as though there has to be more out there than these two obvious options, few actually take the leap into the unknown to discover what the world has to offer.
One of Castleton University’s alumni, Isaac Devoid, jumped headfirst into the abyss when he joined the Peace Corps and moved to Botswana, a country in Southern Africa, a little over a year ago.
Botswana is a country heavily affected by HIV/AIDs. In 2016, there were 360,000 people living with HIV and 3,900 AIDs related deaths, according to a UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) report published in 2017.
Devoid has been working with two departments in the Ministry of Local Government, the District AIDS Coordination Office and the Social and Community Development Office. Within the offices, Devoid works on HIV/AIDs related issues through capacity building and strengthening the current systems in place.
An average day for Devoid starts around 7:30 a.m. when he heads to the District AIDs Coordination Office or the Social and Community Development Office.
Devoid and his team “put an emphasis on the sustainability of our projects so that the systems we put in place still work seamlessly after our departure from Botswana.”
He also works with staff from local health facilities to train health care workers on supply chain and logistics tasks like the ordering, receiving and storage of health commodities.
The training ensures that lifesaving health commodities, like antiretroviral therapy medication used to treat HIV/AIDs, are readily available for patients.
Recently, Devoid helped bring many useful resources to a village about 20 miles away from his home village. He and his colleagues worked with non-governmental organizations to bring mobile HIV testing and reached out to the District Health Management Team so dental checks, diabetes and hypertension testing was also provided.
In the Social and Community Development Office, Devoid and his co-workers focus more on economic empowerment, like working with orphans and other at-risk youth to teach them about the many problems they will most likely encounter as they grow up.
This office recently held a one-day workshop where Devoid and his team worked on self-esteem building exercises and also taught them about gender-based violence, a huge issue throughout the world.
Devoid is very passionate about working to eradicate gender-based violence. In July, he worked with his counterpart to start a gender committee, which consists of a “multi-sectoral approach so gender can be streamlined even in government workplaces and promoted throughout villages.”
He has also been working closely with the Botswana police officers and the local station commander to educate them on gender issues. Devoid says they’re providing the police with the tools they need to “look through a gender lens and have that perspective when dealing with survivors of gender-based violence.”
Devoid also touched on how it can sometimes be challenging when discussing such loaded topics.
“To change people’s behaviors and change their mindsets, you just have to have difficult conversations. It may be a bit awkward, but they can bring about change and promote a healthy community.”
When asked about his plans for the upcoming year, he said he hopes to create a comprehensive condom distribution plan to increase the access of condoms within his village, and also open a daycare center for teen moms so they’re able to continue receiving an education.
Before Devoid was making a difference 8,000 miles away, he did lots of great things at Castleton. He was on the men’s lacrosse team and started the Climb for Connor in 2015. This 24-hour rock-wall climbing marathon brings Castleton and Norwich together to raise money for a close friend of Devoid’s who played on Norwich lacrosse before passing away suddenly in 2014.
Castleton lacrosse coach Bo McDougall said Devoid was extremely involved and always “just trying to make a difference. He always knew he wanted to go global and do something bigger than that.”
Professor Bill Wiles, or “Mr. Bill” as he is known, was a close mentor of Devoid and said he isn’t surprised at his work.
“It’s really encouraging to see people who did make a difference here, like Isaac, now making a difference in the world,” he said. “Isaac’s passion for helping others, especially those who are on the margins or in distress, makes him the poster child for The Castleton Way — Respect, Honor, Kindness, and Responsibility.”