Jessica Benton Cooney

  • Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012

Jessica Benton Cooney

Major: Political Science
Hometown: Oshkosh, Wis.
Notable: Two years of service in Peace Corps, El Salvador.
Staff Writer and Production Editor, The Congressional Quarterly, Washington, D.C.
M.S. in Human Rights, London School of Economics (anticipated Dec. 2010).
Passed the Foreign Service exam.
Currently: Communication and Public Outreach Coordinator
Kabul, Afghanistan

We spoke with Ms. Cooney via Skype in the Fall of 2010, two days after her arrival in Kabul.

" I'm working for a contract company, officially under USAID. I start tomorrow, so I can't really give you everything that this will entail. I'll be here for six months.

The Peace Corps was something I always wanted to do. I love being in the field, and I love doing hands-on development work. I wanted the adventure. I've always enjoyed working in developing countries.

Why Afghanistan?

" Probably because I'm crazy also I wanted the adventure. It's a challenge, I look forward it."

" I think this work requires someone who's adaptable and someone who's been in the trenches and someone who is willing to put themselves into situations where other people simply won't go. I think it's about knowing your boundaries and not pushing them, and fitting in culturally, especially as a woman."

Tell me about your experience at the College?

" I was very involved. I was the editor of On The Edge, I was an R.A. - I didn't leave any stone unturned. I went back to Edgewood College before I left for Kabul, and talked to Steve (Steve Davis, Social Sciences Department) and Jack (Jack Vitek, English Department) and Frank (Frank Casale, Social Sciences). I want to keep those relationships. They're all great. I owe a lot of my education and world view to Frank, and a lot of my political knowledge to Steve, and a lot of my journalistic hustle to Jack. When I think of College, I think of Frank's house either in Madison or in Rome  eating Italian food, and talking about issues of the day. It's a tie that still binds. There were moments of challenge, but overall it was an amazing experience