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Kentucky resident heading to Africa

Dec. 25, 2012 @ 10:45 PM

RUSSELL, Ky. -- A 27-year-old Russell, Ky., native has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for South Africa on Jan. 23.

Katie Jo Horton, a 2003 graduate of Russell High School, earned her bachelor's degree from Berea College in 2008 and went on to earn a master's degree in public health from Eastern Kentucky University in 2011. She will train as an HIV outreach volunteer and assist in starting and maintaining HIV/AIDS education and awareness programs.

"Attending Berea was probably the biggest influence," Horton said. "It was a diverse campus with people from all nations, and just having time to get to know people and how they live their lives was very intriguing to me. It made me want to serve and continue learning."

During the first three months of her service in South Africa, Horton will complete technical, language, health and safety training, while living with a host family to become fully immersed in the country's language and culture.

The training and cultural exchange prepare Horton for her two years of service while also allowing community members to gain a better understanding of Americans. After Horton is sworn into service and assigned to a community, she will work on sustainable, community-driven development projects that make a difference for the people of her community

"My desire to travel and help people influenced my decision to apply to Peace Corps," she said. "The opportunity provides the chance to grow as a human being.

"When I finished college I was looking for a way to utilize my training abroad," she said. "Peace Corps has many public health programs, and I thought it would be a perfect fit."

Horton joins the 56 Kentucky residents in the Peace Corps. More than 1,449 Kentucky residents have served since the agency was created in 1961.