Michaela Cheatham, 23, of Camp Springs has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for the Dominican Republic on March 5 to serve as a Spanish literacy promoter in the local primary schools, according to a press release.
Cheatham will live and work in a community to support childhood literacy. She will serve as a resource for the school director, teachers, counselors, parents and students helping to build a foundation for lifelong learning and improve communities’ development opportunities through access to quality education and effective reading and writing skills.
“The opportunity to collaborate with people from a different culture with the shared goal of helping those in need is what inspired me to pursue the Peace Corps. I was also attracted to the opportunity to serve in a long-term way, which I believe cultivates deeper cultural understandings that benefit not only myself but also other people,” Cheatham said in the release.
Cheatham is the daughter of Cynthia and LarNell Cheatham of Camp Springs, and a graduate of Grace Brethren Christian School in Clinton. She attended the University of Maryland College Park where she earned a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism and Spanish language, literature and culture in May 2017. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, she worked at UMD as a peer mentor, media intern and community assistant. Cheatham also worked at Schreiber Translations, Inc. as a Project Manager. Cheatham volunteered for several local organizations as a Spanish literacy teacher, tutor and Spanish mentor as well as ESL teacher for Escuela Laboratorio de Heredia, Costa Rica.
During the first three months of her service, Cheatham will live with a host family in the Dominican Republic to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the necessary skills to assist her community, Cheatham will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in the Dominican Republic, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.
Cheatham was motivated to join Peace Corps by her passion for volunteerism and her desire to experience a new culture. “My love for Bachata, a traditional Dominican dance, and my interest in the African Diaspora attracted me to the Dominican Republic. Also, the Spanish literacy program, which aligns perfectly with what I want to do, was only offered in the Dominican Republic,” said Cheatham of her choice to serve in the Dominican Republic.
“During my Peace Corps service, I hope to make a tangible difference in the life of at least one person. In addition to this, I hope to become a stronger, more confident leader, all while developing new teaching and language skills. I am most excited for all the opportunities to grow, to learn and to be outside of my comfort zone,” Cheatham added.
Cheatham will work in cooperation with the local community and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in the Dominican Republic and help Cheatham develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge when she returns home. Peace Corps volunteers return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
Cheatham joins the 257 Maryland residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 6,340 Marylanders who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.