Fresh from Commencement just a couple of months ago, Claudia Lifton-Schwerner '12 will be graduating to a higher level of volunteerism come January as the winner of a once-in-a-lifetime service opportunity.
Her prize? A yearlong world tour working on animal welfare and research projects in locales like Mexico, Costa Rica, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Laos, Nepal and Fiji. Her exact itinerary is still in the works, but it will be an adventure for sure.
"[The competition] was all I thought about, all I talked about and even all I dreamed about near the end," said Lifton-Schwerner, a communications major who spent many hours volunteering at Oswego-area animal shelters as a student. "I'm extremely passionate about working with animals."
The social media-driven competition narrowed 1,000 entrants to rounds of 50, 30 and 20. The top 20 and, finally, the top 5 were left to the opinion of Facebook voters.
Lifton-Schwerner canvassed Facebook, handed out cookies in exchange for votes across campus and even enlisted the help of Mom, who got the word out to local newspapers and yoga classes she instructs back home in Nyack.
"It's been a whirlwind," Lifton-Schwerner said via phone from San Diego, where she recently moved for an internship with the Animal Protection and Rescue League. The GVI experience, which is expected to include animal and conservation projects, begins in January.
"The most exciting part is that I can start spreading awareness at a global level," said Lifton-Schwerner, who will be blogging for GVI about her travels. "There's an incredible need for animal welfare work abroad."