Hayden graduate peacing out | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden graduate peacing out

Hayden High School graduate Mallory McGowen is preparing for a 27-month mission in Albania with the Peace Corps.

— Mallory McGowen, a 2012 Hayden High School graduate, is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

On Saturday, the 22-year-old will board a plane to begin a 27-month Peace Corps mission in Albania where she will teach English to middle and high school students.

"I'm really excited to go and represent my country," McGowen said.

The community is also excited.

"I think it's fantastic," Hayden High School Principal Gina Zabel said. "I'm not surprised by it at all. I think she has a huge calling for humanitarian work."

After graduating high school, McGowen attended Boise State University. She double majored in history and classical studies and minored in Latin language and literature. McGowen graduated summa cum laude.

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With the goal of becoming a museum curator, McGowen was prepared to go to graduate school, but she suddenly changed her mind.

"I sort of woke up one day and said 'I don't want to be about me for a little bit. I wanna make a difference,'" McGowen said.

She started the application process to become a Peace Corps volunteer a year ago and then went through an extensive interview process. She beat out thousands of other applicants for 5,000 positions.

McGowen said she felt lucky to get assigned the position that she had listed as a preference.

She is an experienced traveler, having spent last summer working at an archeological dig site in northern Italy.

"That really solidified that I would like to go out of the country and do work," she said.

She has developed a passion for eastern Europe with its untouched jewels of history and hidden ruins in the Balkans.

The mission will include 11 weeks of training, and Mcgowan said she hopes to learn the local language called Shqipe.

"I still can't pronounced it," she said.

Last week, McGowen's dad Rodney McGowen had fresh crawfish flown in from Louisiana in her daughter's honor. They enjoyed a good meal but neither McGowen nor her parents are looking forward to the moment when Mallory McGowen has to board the plane.

"I'm really proud of her doing something selfless for two years of her life after graduating," Rodney McGowen said.

Mallory is looking forward to the adventure, but she admitted she was a little nervous.

"I am feeling really good," she said. "I'm nervous. I think there would be something wrong with me if I wasn't nervous."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland