Jeanne Natalia Choquehuanca has called many places home, but holds Lakeland, Florida especially dear. She was raised to take great pride in her Native American Quechua and Ukrainian heritage, and it ultimately motivates her interest in international development. She earned a B.A. in Political Science and Intercultural Studies from Saint Mary’s College of Indiana. An active student leader, she was awarded the college-wide Saint Catherine’s Medal for community service and received a SISTAR Independent Research grant to examine the politicization of mestizaje and indigenous identity in Ecuador and Peru.
Following graduation, Jeanne served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Arizona 4-H and led a community asset mapping initiative that empowered youth to illustrate and address community issues through the use of global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS). She then worked at the University of Arizona on the USDA-funded Stealth Health project, which utilized mobile technologies and social media to increase youth physical activity and civic engagement. Jeanne also volunteered with the Nonviolence Peace Legacy Project as an advanced level Trainer of Kingian Nonviolence.
She continued to employ data visualization and participatory assessment methods in her work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nebaj, Guatemala. In Guatemala, she partnered with the Ministry of Education on the development of an integrated youth development program, organizing four youth leadership groups and a regional intercultural youth leadership conference. She also served on Peace Corps Guatemala’s Gender and Development Committee as the Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) Program coordinator. She has since worked in freelance graphic design and in Financial Systems at Peace Corps Headquarters.
Jeanne is pursuing a Master’s of Community Planning and International Development at the University of Maryland, College Park. She plans to harness the dynamic approach of Urban Planning to facilitate more inclusive, community-driven development. Deeply inspired by the late Congressman Payne’s work, she is honored to be a Payne fellow and hopes to continue his legacy throughout her career as a USAID Foreign Service Officer.