Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Kayla Pengelly

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Kayla Pengelly

Making the World a Better Place

Since graduating two years ago, University Alumnus Kayla Pengelly, formerly Kayla Angelosante, has dedicated her life to making the world a better place by joining the Peace Corps.  This long-standing dream of hers has now become a reality.  Pengelly and her husband live with a host family in a small village, not even seen on Google Earth, in Cambodia. 

“Joining the Peace Corps, and having the opportunity to give back in a major way to those less popular and most needy populations, was something I always knew I wanted to do,” Pengelly said. “There was never an ultimatum about joining, and it was kind of a ‘package deal’ for my husband to come with me.”

Pengelly was the first student at the Island University to receive a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in 2011. During her time as a University student, she held many officer positions in organizations, including President of Colleges Against Cancer, Sponsor and Philanthropy Chair of Delta Delta Delta sorority, and Vice President of the Islander Cultural Alliance.  Pengelly attributes her passion for helping her fellow man to the experiences she gained in these service organizations.

Now, her days consist of waking up to monkeys, water buffalo, and tree-top wild fruits. This has certainly been a change of scenery from the United States, but Pengelly has adapted to Cambodian life very well because of her intelligence and willingness to learn.  Her jobs consist of teaching English and health classes to the local villagers and working at a local orphanage. 

She also managed to develop a program for village children wanting to learn a new skill. Through her willingness to go the extra mile, the children have learned to sew and measure dresses, while earning money for themselves and to their orphanage.  Pengelly has also taught the children the value of work and truly guided the people of Cambodia to a brighter future.

“The best thing about joining the Peace Corps is when you see the fruits of your labor,” Pengelly said. “Change is hard and takes an absurd amount of work, but when you see a child take steps on his or her own to better their country, it makes all the struggles worth it.”
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