Our 2016 Alumni of the Year

We honor Dock alumni for their distinguished service and outstanding achievements.

Rachel Derstine - 2016 Young Alum of the Year

Discovering the value of a global world view

Cross-cultural experiences helped Rachel stretch herself--and find her place in the world.

Rachel has spent a total of four years working in Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

She is a graduate of Goshen College and recently completed her Master’s degree at Columbia University in Public Policy and International Social Welfare.

Rachel has done significant work with marginalized populations including immigrants and refugees, people living in poverty, and women and youth.

She is currently living in Washington, D.C. serving as a Program Officer for the National Democratic Institute (NDI). There, she works in partnership with local organizations to advance human rights, to promote the political inclusion of marginalized groups, and to further the principles of democracy and good governance in Cambodia and Thailand.

"When I find myself asking, ‘What am I doing?’ I know that my work is grounded in the critical world view that seeped into my classrooms and was introduced through cross-cultural opportunities," Rachel said as she accepted Dock's Young Alum of the Year Award last year. "Whether it was in northern Ireland with Elaine Moyer, Mexico City with Eldon Miller, Washington, DC, with Kirby King, western Europe with Rodney Derstine, or rural Honduras with the MAMA Project, I learned the value of pushing the boundaries of who I am as a person, and how I understand my place in the world.

"When I look around and ask, ‘Is this really my life?’ I know that the instinct to not only appreciate and reflect, but to take stock and evaluate where I am and what I am doing, is inspired by the examples of faculty and staff too many to name. I accept this award with profound thanks for everything this community has given me."

Watch Rachel's Alum of the Year Award acceptance:


Rachel Derstine

  • Dock Class of 2003
  • Goshen College Class of 2007
  • Master's in Public Policy and International Social Welfare, Columbia University
  • Four years with MCC in Myanmar and Vietnam
  • Currently program officer for the National Democratic Institute

I know that my work is grounded in the critical worldview that seeped into my classrooms and was introduced through cross-cultural opportunities. [Because of these], I learned the value of pushing the boundaries of who I am as a person, and how I understand my place in the world.

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