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Local Girl Joins Peace Corps

UVA grad Lauryn Alleva works as environmental planner in Jamaica.

Little Rocky Run's Lauryn Alleva, 22, has spent most of her life interested in working with the environment. Now she is training to be an environmental planner, working for a planning agency in a local Jamaican government through the Peace Corps. When she finishes training, Alleva will work with a program that raises environmental awareness.

“I’ve always had an interest in environmental issues,” she said. “I really wanted to do something with the knowledge I gained in college.”

LAURYN LEFT the United States on July 1 for a 27-month service shortly after finishing college. A graduate of Centreville High School, she completed a bachelor of arts degree in urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia. She also received a second degree in environmental thought and practice. She knew before she started at college that she wanted to be a part of the Peace Corps.

“I love to travel and wanted to take advantage of that opportunity,” she said.

Lauryn described her experience in Jamaica as a good change: “It’s completely different here… It’s new in a positive way.”

She said that she had been exchanging her own cultural experiences in the U.S. with those of the people she has met in Jamaica. She is spending her first three months with a host family specifically to become acclimated to the country’s language and culture. After that, she will serve two years living in conditions similar to those in the community around her. Lauryn said her time away from home puts a hold on her life in the U.S.

“It’s like putting a pause on everything in the states,” she said.

Although there is an ocean between her and her home, she has stayed in contact with friends and family.

“I definitely miss everyone, but they’re all supportive of me,” Lauryn said. “They know this is what I want to do.”

Her mother, Anmarie Kallas-Alleva, called these changes part of a life passage. With one daughter in Jamaica and the other in Denver, she has had to adjust.

“When your child graduates from college, it’s kind of a life transition,” Anmarie said. She also said she encourages her children so they feel free and confident to pursue their dreams.

In reference to Lauryn, Anmarie said she is proud of her recent accomplishments.

“I can’t say enough good things about her,” she said. “Even though she is my daughter, she is an amazing young woman.”