For the first time in nearly 15 years, Erin Mone leads a regular life. Since May, she's been living in Boston with her fiancé, balancing her full-time duties as the regional director of recruitment for the Peace Corps with her part-time job as a teacher at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.
But Mone is the first to admit that her normal life probably won't hold her for long. She already hears the call. Somewhere in some forgotten corner of the world, there are children struggling to survive. And once her husband-to-be is properly convinced, Mone will surely fly away from regularity to begin her real work once again.
"It's in my blood," says Mone, who first discovered her passion for youth development work during the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. "Seeing children in adverse situations, realizing how lucky I am and where I come from—something just sparked. I felt that my goal and my responsibility was to be an advocate for them."
Mone, MSW '99, talks a lot about responsibility. Only one of her parents graduated from high school, and they always encouraged Mone to make the most of her considerable talents. After graduating from college, she went straight into teaching, but even that didn't feel like enough of a challenge.
After her transformative experience in the Peace Corps, she was eager to get back out into the field, but knew she would be an even more effective advocate if she had her MSW degree. It was at the GSSW that she met her greatest mentor, Professor Paul Kline.
"I'll never forget the first day I walked into his class," says Mone. "He just engages you completely in talking about adolescents and young people and their challenges. It was the first time in my career that I found someone who cared as much as I did about making sure children had a voice."
Kline helped Mone focus her enormous sense of responsibility on some of the world's toughest cases. For the next four years, Mone lived mostly in refugee camps with former child soldiers from Sierra Leone, street children in Indonesia and youth displaced by war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Back in Boston—a world away—Mone loves sharing her experiences with master's students at GSSW, what she calls the "highlight of her week." But will that be enough to keep her here for another semester? Or where will her responsibility call her next?