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Madeline Heinzer and Ian Schielein
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Two WIU Graduating Seniors Headed for Paraguay with the Peace Corps

May 4, 2018

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MACOMB, IL – As Western Illinois University's next class of graduates prepare to cross the stage this month, they are pondering the next step toward their future.

Two of those graduating seniors, Madeline Heinzer, a political science and foreign languages and cultures double major, of Sugar Grove, IL, and Ian Schielein, a biology major, of Dixon, IL, will leave for Paraguay in September as incoming members of the Peace Corps.

Heinzer and Schielein began dating at WIU more than two years ago and have joined the Peace Corps as a couple. They have committed to the program for a two-year term.

"This has always been on my radar as I studied foreign languages and international relations," said Heinzer. "I also have wanted to travel and work abroad."

Schielein shares Heinzer's hopes for international travel and said the Peace Corps is offering them a unique chance.

"We saw this an opportunity to see distant parts of the world," said Schielein. "This is also an opportunity to meet new people and spread American culture. It is also offering a new challenge in my education."

WIU's Peace Corps program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to enhance their academic experience with an emphasis on community development and service.

The couple applied for the Peace Corps in January and learned they had been accepted in February. They applied specifically to be assigned to Paraguay, but do not yet know where they will live. Once they arrive, Heinzer will serve as an advocate for environmental education and Schielein will be a community agriculture teacher in schools and in the community where they are stationed.

"We know the area will be rural, but we don't know where we are going yet," said Heinzer. "We expect there won't be running water or paved roads, but our fingers are crossed for the area having electricity."

Schielein said the couple plans to take a Go-Pro camera along to document their experiences and will contribute to a blog, which can be found at The couple has spent the last several months getting the necessary immunizations and gathering documents for a Peace Corps Passport application.

The couple said WIU's Peace Corps Campus Recruiter Rosey Brown has been a tremendous help in their preparation efforts.

"All of us at Peace Corps Programs at WIU are very excited for Maddie and Ian to serve in Paraguay with Peace Corps for two years," said Brown. "They have been exemplary PC Prep members by always signing up to volunteer, taking leadership opportunities, and helping to promote a spirit of service to others. Service with Peace Corps will provide Ian and Maddie with an immersive hands-on learning experience, in-depth technical/language training that they will be able to bring back to the United States upon their return from Paraguay."

Heinzer said her main future goal has been to work abroad in international development and she said this experience will have a "clear benefit" in gathering experience for a future career. Schielein said he looks forward to seeing which part of the country they will be stationed in and sharing the goals of the Peace Corps with the people of Paraguay.

The couple will receive vacation time so they can return to the United States during their service. Both said they expect to return to WIU to talk about their experiences in the classroom.

Before Heinzer and Schielein leave for Paraguay, Henzier has been invited study in Busan, South Korea for nine weeks this summer with the help of the Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. State Department. She is only the second WIU student to be accepted to the program, which has a 10 percent acceptance rate.

"Everyone else on the list of participants is from schools like Princeton, Georgetown, the University of Washington, etc.," said Heinzer. "The experience includes in class language programs, cultural exchanges, art and cooking lessons and classes such as taekwondo."

She will study the Korean language and will live in a dormitory with a South Korean student before returning for her Peace Corps service.

For more information about the Peace Corps program at Western, visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing