Wolthausen, a medical anthropology major with minors in Spanish, microbiology and economics, will serve as a health extension volunteer in Cambodia.
Lacrosse drew Wolthausen to Wagner College, but he felt at home right away in the college’s civic engagement curriculum.
“My first-year learning community was in anthropology and Spanish,” he said. “Studying with professors Dietrich and Sanchez led me to volunteer work in Port Richmond at El Centro del Inmigrante, tutoring immigrant children. It opened my eyes — and that was a big part of my interview with the Peace Corps.”
Wolthausen’s volunteer work with the Staten Island Neighborhood Food Initiative also played a role in winning his place as a Peace Corps Volunteer, since a major piece of his work in Cambodia will be the demonstration of healthy food preparation and eating, he said.
His academic work ties in to the Peace Corps, too, he said.
“My senior thesis is about the oral microbiome’s impact on overall health, as well as the impact of a diverse diet,” he explained.
He was inspired by the work of anthropology professor Celeste Gagnon, who for years has studied the impact of economic stratification on the working-class diet of Peru’s ancient Moche people of Peru — as evidenced in their teeth and bones.
His thesis is scheduled for publication in the upcoming issue of the Wagner College Forum for Undergraduate Research.
Wolthausen leaves in mid-July for Cambodia, where his first couple of months will be devoted to Khmer language immersion and classes on operating a rural health center. Once placed in a community, he will live and eat with a host family while working as a health educator.
Wolthausen said he was experiencing a whirlwind of emotion as he prepares for graduation this May and departure for Cambodia in July, although he is “more excited than anything.”
Following his service in the Peace Corps, Wolthausen hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
“The Peace Corps experience will mean a lot when applying to grad school,” he said.