The Peace Corps awarded Jack Campbell, the Peace Corps recruiter at The Ohio State University for the past six years, the 2015 Lillian Carter Award on May 13th in Atlanta, Georgia. The prestigious award, named after the mother of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, is presented biennially to an outstanding, senior Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who demonstrates a commitment to the Peace Corps' third goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Jack was presented the award by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
During her video message honoring Jack, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet highlighted the fact that Jack is the oldest RPCV to ever receive the Lillian Carter Award, and expressed her appreciation for being “a great friend of the Peace Corps.”
Jack’s journey in the Peace Corps began when he was 58, after a long career in business that left him searching for more in life. He was selected and offered an assignment in Fiji, where he worked with the Fiji Development Bank to teach basic business skills to native Fijians. Upon his return home from that assignment, he again had the desire to serve abroad. His second Peace Corps assignment in 1993 was in Botswana, Africa, where he faced, in his words “the most difficult, but most gratifying, challenge” of his life.
In Botswana he was tasked with building a vocational training facility - from the ground up - for rural students, and securing the $100,000 needed to fund the construction. Jack, being the experienced businessman that he was, succeeded, and the facility is still in operation today educating rural Botswanans. It was also in Botswana, on that same assignment, where Jack met his wife, Carole, a Peace Corps volunteer at the time stationed in Gaborone.
His two previous experiences in the Peace Corps were so positive, that Jack felt himself being drawn back again to the Peace Corps fourteen years after his last assignment. In 2009, Jack assumed the role of Peace Corps recruiter for Ohio State University, where he worked out of the Office of International Programs in Agriculture in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Jack’s passion for the Peace Corps, together with his knack of interacting with young people, has brought about Ohio State’s rise to #4 in the Peace Corps’ annual rankings of colleges and universities, with 64 Ohio State alumni currently serving overseas as Peace Corps Volunteers.
Dr. Mark Erbaugh, Director of the Office of International Programs in Agriculture, has been nothing but amazed with Jack’s success as a campus recruiter, and when asked to describe Jack in one word, says “enthusiastic” without hesitation.
There are no words to describe how much the Peace Corps, along with Ohio State, has benefited from Jack’s service and enthusiasm. Jack however, would characterize the relationship slightly differently.
“I have received more from Peace Corps than I have given,” shared Jack during his acceptance speech at the May 13th ceremony. “One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that you should always be open to a new experience, and never turn away from an open door. The adventure of a lifetime might be waiting on the other side.”