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Illinois State alum uses his education to help others through Peace Corps

Robert Esterquest and his brother visiting his host family from training in Zambia.

Robert Esterquest and his brother visiting his host family from training in Chongwe, Zambia.

Robert Esterquest ’14 is putting his Illinois State education to use as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia.

As an undergraduate student Robert studied Exercise Science. He was devoted to many extracurriculars as the Vice President of Sigma Chi Fraternity, the Vice President of Accountability for the Interfraternal Council, and the Secretary of Order of Omega Greek Honors Society. In the Bloomington-Normal community, he also worked for the Boy Scouts of America, leading afters school clubs on leadership and health.

Before graduating, Esterquest held an internship at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), where he solidified his passion for medicine. While making decisions about what to do in his gap year, intended Robert’s supervisor, an AmeriCorps Alumni, suggested he look into the AmeriCorps organization as a possible option.

“After doing extensive research into the AmeriCorps, I stumbled upon the Peace Corps,” Esterquest said. “The organization’s concept and its ideals greatly interested me. I decided that I couldn’t let such a large and unique life experience pass me by, so I applied to the Peace Corps as a Health Volunteer.”

Shortly after, he started working as a Rehabilitation Technician at Barrington Orthopedics, Robert was accepted by the Peace Corps, who gave him a list of countries that could use his services. Ultimately, he selected Zambia based on another recommendation from his supervisor at Barrington Orthopedic, who grew up in Zambia before immigrating to the United States.

Rob at the iconic “Devils Pool”, which was located about a half hour from his village.

Rob at the iconic “Devils Pool”, which was located about a half hour from his village.

In the Peace Corps, Esterquest started an HIV/AIDS committee with eight other volunteers in Zambia, designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of HIV programming. Esterquest did this for two years before extending his contract a third year to be the HIV/AIDS Coordinator of Peace Corps Zambia.

“In this role, I am collaborating with other government bodies and non-government organizations to work towards epidemic control of HIV in Zambia,” he said. “I serve as a liaison to the volunteers within all eight provinces in Zambia, as well as, creating and facilitating their HIV/AIDS training during their two-year service.”

Esterquest will soon finish his work with the Peace Corps, and is applying to medical school. He hopes to start medical school in the summer of 2018.

“I hope that I can integrate all that I have learned in the Peace Corps to better serve patients in the United States, and globally.”

Illinois State launched a Peace Corps Prep Program of their own in September 2016. Esterquest says it is a good way to get more Redbirds involved with the organization.

“It is really exciting to see that Illinois State has started to accept students in a prep program,” he said.

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