PACS Alumni Profiles
Jenn Ungemach, Class of 1998What do you do with a peace studies degree if you are a farm girl from Pennsylvania? If you are Jennifer Ungemach you combine your PACS degree with Spanish and set off for Central America! When you talk to Jenn you realize immediately that she has a couple of passions in her life, people and justice. For Jenn, the two are inseparable and her ability to see the humanity and needs of others drives her desire to create a more just and equitable world.
While at Juniata, Jenn studied abroad on two separate occasions, first in Mexico at the Instituto de Estudios Avanzados de Oriente in Veracruz and then at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. These experiences solidified not only her Spanish but her understanding that the privileges enjoyed by those of us living in the first world are both unequal and unfair. In her words, they are “distributed in one gigantic human lottery system. Where you are born determines the limitations or the opportunities you will see.” Through her work Jenn “attempts to even the playing field so that all world citizens share the same rights and opportunities.”
Jenn graduated from Juniata in 1998 and spent the summer after graduation working as a program assistant on the Quest for Peace project at Quixote Center in Maryland. At the end of the summer she packed her bags and headed for Honduras. In Honduras she worked at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, an orphanage that provides a home and family for children of all ages. During her year in Honduras, Jenn was the English department coordinator, taught english to the children, and helped take care of 50 children under the age of seven.
Her next move took her to Nicaragua where she worked for Witness for Peace on their Cuba project. In this work she designed projects to further understanding within the United States about Cuba and the history of Cuban/US policy. Towards this end she organized and led eighteen two–week educational experiences in Cuba aimed specifically at ending the US trade embargo.
After a two year stint with Witness for Peace Jenn has returned to the United States and is now living on Boston, still working on Cuba, this time with OXFAM–AMERICA. She is currently the Program Officer for Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean with special attention to Cuba. Her work with Oxfam America involves coordinating their Cuba projects which include a series of projects in sustainable agriculture/food security and community development projects.
In all of her work Jenn tries to create change in two ways. Many of her projects work to build relationships between and among individuals and groups of people. She has organized tours, work camps, and educational programs all designed to foster connection and understanding between people who otherwise would remain distant and different. At another level she works for change by creating new knowledge and building energy and support for alternative models of development. Fundamental to both approaches is an increase in U.S. citizen’s understanding of the “structures and policies that cause poverty, create hunger, and increase injustice.”
Chris Whitman, Class of 1997I don’t know if Chris Whitman knew that his Bio I and Bio II classes would come in handy once he changed his POE to Peace and Conflict Studies. However this 1997 alum is putting his training in science and peace and conflict studies in his current work.
After graduating from Juniata with a degree in PACS and International Politics Chris went on to pursue his Masters from American University in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. During his graduate program he honed his skills and knowledge. While at American, Chris worked with the International Labor Rights Fund investigating human rights abuses in Burma.
Chris reflects that his Peace and Conflict Studies degree has given him the ability to understand a broad range of issues and fields, communicate effectively and write successfully. Having the ability to understand a broad range of issues comes in handy for Chris as he trains US Military and State Department personnel in issues of biological and chemical weapons. Chris is the Program Manager for training at SAIC, Science Application International Corporation. Through this work Chris has learned about other perspectives in conflict resolution. The highlight of his job is meeting interesting people with which he had never expected to work.
During our interview Chris mentioned several Juniata alums, including his wife, and others that he remained close to from his time at Juniata. This is an aspect of life at Juniata that Chris remembers fondly, the real community that was nurtured and sustained. In conclusion I asked Chris to indulge a few fun questions, such as any advice he might have for Juniata students. He suggested that he wish he had studied abroad. And finally, his dream job would be to someday teach Peace Studies, watch out Andy…
If you're a PACS alum and you would like to add a story or photo to this page (or to the Annual Report!), please email Liz Widman.
Chris Whitman ’97 is coordinating the establishment of the PACS Affinity Group. Affinity Groups are ways to connect PACS alumni and people who were interested in PACS, but finished with another degree, for purposes of networking or grousing. He welcomes calls from people who want to help with ideas or just get on the mailing list at 703.715.4920 or emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re trying to track down an email for a friend from Juniata, try the JC Alumni page.
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