Peace Corps bound
Business major trades fast lane for slow
pace on Tonga
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Price was voted “most likely to save the environment” by
her McIntire School study group.
By Charlotte Crystal
She should have been thrilled. Last summer, Caty Price sat
at a comfortable desk in an office cubicle towards the
end of her internship for the Cramer-Krasselt
Advertising Agency in Phoenix. She had just been offered a job.
loved branding, and I liked the people, and the company was
the fourth-year McIntire School
of Commerce student. The internship had been
a good experience, enabling her to draw on her concentration in marketing and
management. But all she could think of at that moment was, “I do not want
to do this for the next two years.”
Instead, she wanted to do something that would force her to think outside
the box. And that’s what she’s planning to do.
Next fall, when her McIntire classmates don pinstripes, fight
city crowds and hunker down before flickering computer
screens at investment-advising
firms in New York and Northern Virginia, pulling down hefty paychecks for
80-hour workweeks, Price will be adjusting to life in the slow lane in
of Tonga, a tropical island in the South Pacific. There, as a Peace Corps
volunteer, she’ll have to adjust to a new climate, new diet, new language, new culture
and new ways of putting her business skills to work.
She knows her job for the next two years will have something
to do with youth development, but she’s not yet sure exactly what.
“It’s not all together altruistic on my part,” she says of her decision. “I
just think it will be a good way to get some hands-on, business-management experience.”
A native of Shreveport, La., Price, 22, graduated from high
school in Roanoke. Her mother passed away when she was
17. Her father, Charles
Price, a radiologist
now living in Miami, Fla., loved to cook exotic food and expected
Price and her two siblings to try new things. “I hated it then,” Price admits, “but
I’ll eat anything now.”
It’s a skill that should serve her well in the coming years as she grows
accustomed to the Tongan diet, based on chicken, pork, yams and tropical fruit.
Tonga lies north of New Zealand, west of Samoa and east of
Fiji. There are currently 50 to 70 Peace Corps volunteers
of 101,000 spread over 170 islands, fewer than 40 of which are
inhabited. The country’s economy is based on imports of tourists and exports of pumpkin
Price has enjoyed the bottom-line focus of her education
in commerce and fit in well with the many Type-A personalities
at the undergraduate
But she has another side.
Brought up in the Unitarian Universalist Church, Price enjoys
learning about different religions and has pursued that interest
a minor in religious
In the summer of 2001, she worked with the Unitarian Universalist
Faith and Action Office in Washington, D.C., where she developed study guides
for the church on globalization, among other topics.
“I’ve always been teased as being earth friendly and was voted by [my McIntire
study group] as being ‘most likely to save the environment,’” she
In her spare time as a second-year student, Price volunteered
with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She volunteers each
year as a counselor
church camp, and has enjoyed her membership in the
Phi Mu sorority, a diverse group of girls who support
Children’s Miracle Network.
Since her second year, she also has worked 10 to 15
hours a week at Greenberry’s
Coffee & Tea Co. in the Barracks Road Shopping Center.
“I’ve always worked; I’ve always saved my money,” Price
said. “My mom always told us there was no reason to be bored. We never
did much sitting around.”
That drive to keep busy served her well as a student. “I’m really
hypercompetitive,” she said.
Even so, she is drawn to programs that combine
her interests, such as Leading with Compassion,
McIntire, for which
wrote a paper
about corporate social responsibility. “We need to know who we’re affecting,” she
Price believes her experience with the Peace
Corps will give her an edge in the job market
in marketing, communication, and people skills,
all of which would be valuable for a career
When her Peace Corps stint draws to a close,
she will look for a job in international
in the area of environmentally conscious
manufacturing. Price is optimistic about individuals’ and companies’ abilities to effect positive change.
She may need to tap that optimism during
her Peace Corps adventure, which is likely
assumptions and take her out
of her comfort
And she’s happy about that.