Harlingen woman off to Panama with Peace Corps

HARLINGEN — The Panama Canal. Flowering trees, palm-studded beaches, free winds for everyone. Hundreds of bird species fly through the Isthmus of Panama each year between North and South America.

Now, Cynthia Inglett, 22, has made that Central American country her destination.

“I am going to be an environmental educator,” said Cynthia, who will begin her tour as a Peace Corps volunteer next month.

The 2015 graduate of Harlingen High School has just completed her bachelor’s degree in communications studies with a minor in nature and heritage tourism from Texas State University.

Her training as a communicator has prepared her to share her information with others, and the focus on nature definitely provides background.

Cynthia doesn’t know exactly where in Panama she’ll be working for more than two years beginning next month.

Perhaps she’ll work in the Chiriqui Mountains near the Costa Rican border or the rural Azuero Peninsula. Maybe she’ll be in the infamous Darien jungle near the Colombian border. Or she could be somewhere near the Canal itself.

“I will be educating children in classrooms, and I will have workshops with adults,” she said. “I’m going to be teaching them sustainable practices, how to grow their own crops.”

She’ll also work on a project with Panamanian officials to help solve local environmental issues.

This all began with a teacher in Costa Rica, where Cynthia studied abroad.

“I was captivated by her stories,” she said. “I asked her about it.”

Cynthia has always pursued travel and adventure. However, the Costa Rica experience piqued her interest in international matters. She explored international organizations and concerns on a more global scale, and the Peace Corps seemed a perfect choice given her inclinations.

“It really fits for my personality,” she said. “I am adventurous and spontaneous. I enjoy trying new things.”

Applying wasn’t easy. Two of her friends didn’t even receive a call for an interview, and that’s the next step after all the forms are in.

“I was anxious when I applied thinking that I wasn’t going to get it,” she said. “I got a phone call in August for an interview. It was two hours, and it was intense.”

The questions focused on specific realities about everyday life in foreign countries and how she would handle it, such as walking for miles to get water.

“It seemed they were looking for reasons why I would leave,” she said. “They were trying to see how I would adjust to being in a foreign country. They don’t want people who would leave.”

She succeeded at the grueling interview, receiving a call in September she’d been accepted.

Cynthia, who wants to work in the environmental field, hopes the Peace Corps will lay the groundwork for her professional life.

“I want to work on conservation on a global level,” she said. “I want to work in another country. I want to work for the United Nations on their environmental programs.”

Did you know?

Cynthia Inglett, 22

– Peace Corps volunteer

– Heading to Panama next month for two years

– 2015 graduate of Harlingen High School

– Bachelors degree in communications studies from Texas State University with a minor in nature and heritage tourism

– David and Maria Inglett, parents