Student Stories: CED major vows to help improve people's lives in troubled Haiti

In high school, Carolyn McDonald felt a connection to the country of Haiti and decided to focus her future on how she could help make it a better place.

McDonald,  of State College, Pennsylvania, a community, environment, and development major in the College of Agricultural Sciences, first traveled to Haiti when she was 15 years old.

"I was moved and troubled by the poverty I witnessed and wanted to make a difference," she said. "I realized I needed to learn how to help in the most effective way, so I began searching for majors that I felt would teach me the skills I needed."

McDonald was set on moving to Haiti after graduating from high school, but her family and Haitian friends urged her to go to college.

During her search, McDonald discovered the community, environment, and development major at Penn State. The program helps students to develop knowledge and skills needed to work with various communities in solving difficult problems facing society.

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Carolyn McDonald (far left) graduated in May 2015, and continues her efforts to help Haitians. She currently works with Pan American Development Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings together many stakeholders to help improve communities and environments in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Image: Penn State

For her untiring efforts, McDonald received the 2015 Rock Ethics Award, which honors Penn State undergraduate students who demonstrate leadership in supporting a cause they believe in.

"Recognizing those who are standing up for what they believe in helps the world see that Penn State is taking action on important causes to make a difference," she said. "I am excited to be one of the many graduates of Penn State who make an impact."

McDonald, who graduated in May 2015, continues her efforts to help Haitians.

She currently works with Pan American Development Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings together many stakeholders to help improve communities and environments in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"I am motivated to do this work because I am passionate about seeing the country of Haiti reach its full potential," she said. "It takes many people coming together for this potential to shine. If I can be a small part of that, I will feel like I have accomplished something great."

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Last Updated July 16, 2015