Two sisters from Humansville — Cheyenne and Cierra Rodenbaugh — are stepping out into the world and moving toward new directions. Cheyenne is preparing to move to Ukraine as a volunteer for the Peace Corps, and Cierra is preparing to intern for the House of Representatives in Washington D.C.
Cheyenne, 23, who graduated from Truman State University in May with a double-major in classics and English, will teach English to high schoolers in Ukraine for 2 ½ years — the type of service that suits her passion for language.
That passion may stem from her and her sister’s experience in homeschooling, which they both agreed helped to develop their own interests through independent work.
In particular, Cheyenne’s interest in classics was something she had been invested in from an early age.
By the time college came around the corner, one of Cheyenne’s deciding factors for her choice of school was the study of classics. She chose TSU because it’s one of only three schools in Missouri that offers the major, she said.
Cheyenne delved into a multitude of languages at college; in only one semester, she took Greek, German, Latin and Old English, which she “aced,” according to Cheyenne’s mother.
Cheyenne was also involved in several volunteer groups, including teaching Latin to a group of fourth graders and researching how that affected their English skills and translated into learning other cultures, she said.
As it turns out, Cheyenne’s experience with languages, teaching and volunteering checked off the boxes for her Peace Corps application.
Cheyenne first heard about the Peace Corps early on in college, so the possibility had always been in the back of her mind, she said.
When she decided to apply a year ago, it was “a pretty long process,” she said.
“You have to write an essay and fill out an application,” she explained, “and then you’re put under consideration for a country. … It can last anywhere from a day to months, and then if you get to the point where they request an interview, you have a 50/50 shot of getting in.”
Her requested interview was 2 ½ hours long, and then she had to pass a background check and thorough medical check, which took a few more months, she said.
Cheyenne explained she’s joining Peace Corps for “a lot of reasons.”
“I think that it’s really interesting to see how the U.S reaches out to other countries,” she said, “so this is a chance to both learn about the culture of other places and share American culture with them.”
She also described the difference between Peace Corps and shorter volunteer programs, saying that in the Peace Corps “you’re actually immersed because you live there for over two years, and it takes a really long time to actually get to know the culture of a place.”
Though she said the experience might be hard because she’s never lived outside the Missouri area, Cheyenne noted the opportunity will help her grow as a person, which is another factor she’s anticipating.
Besides teaching English, Cheyenne said she’ll also get to run English clubs every week and participate in other projects based on her community’s needs.
Cheyenne’s goals for the Peace Corps are to learn Ukrainian — which she’ll learn during her Peace Corps training and service, though she’s already been studying the language ahead of time — and share “different cultures and different viewpoints, both with people there and people here,” she said.
In her free time in Ukraine, she said she wants to “croquette more and get back into journaling.”
“I also want to keep up with my Latin and Ancient Greek languages there, too,” she said.
Beyond the Peace Corps, Cierra said she’s interested in pursuing a service-oriented avenue.
“The foreign service is definitely something I’m interested in,” she said, “but I’m also considering working with nonprofits that work with youth in particular, and maybe working with the Department of State in a more general sense.”
Regarding her sister Cierra’s internship in D.C, Cheyenne said, “I think she’s doing really good.”
“She’s found what she likes,” she said, “and she’s doing really well at it.”
The big city
Cierra, 20, a junior at the University of Central Missouri majoring in political science with a minor in Middle Eastern studies and communications, already has experience working in Missouri politics.
Cierra recently served as an intern for the Missouri Senate during the spring semester, and this summer, she has worked for Missouri Department of Transportation’s external civil rights division in Jefferson City.
MoDOT’s s civil rights division, she said, helps companies owned by women and minorities attain goals and contracts for the department.
And on Saturday, Aug. 22, Cierra will move to Washington, D.C for her internship with the House of Representatives. She said she can’t give the details of the office she’ll work with.
At her internship, Cierra will “help answer all of the phones, help answer all of the emails and give a lot of tours.”
She said she’s always been interested in politics, but she didn’t consider working in the field until college because she went in not exactly knowing what she wanted to do.
“I enjoy it because it’s a really good way to make a difference,” Cierra said. “Right now, I feel like we really need people interested in public policy.”
For public policy, “there’s a lot of disagreement in general with it, but a lot of people don’t quite understand what actually is behind it,” she explained.
Regarding her move to D.C., Cierra said, “I’m definitely excited. I think it will be very interesting.”
“Especially considering that I’m working for the minority party, which is different from when I was here in Jefferson City working for the majority,” she added.
Cierra’s goals for the internship, she said, will be to meet people and make connections. In addition, the internship will allow her to get a feel for the environment to see if that’s where she’d like to work in the future.
Beyond college, she said she has a few different avenues she’s been considering.
“I either want to work for the federal government with the goal of becoming a chief of staff in either the Senate or House or Representatives,” she said. “Or do the same thing at the state-level — or become a lobbyist.”
Cierra’s advice to young people wanting to get into politics is, “Definitely get involved early.”
“There’s always local campaigns that you can get involved in,” she said. “Door-knocking, especially, and things like that. There’s 200-something members of Missouri’s House of Representatives, so it’s really easy to volunteer for their campaigns.”
And regarding her sister Cheyenne’s 2 ½ year service in Ukraine, Cierra joked, “It’s definitely something I would not do.”
“But if that’s what she wants to do, that’s what she wants to do,” she added. “I don’t think she’d want to do my job.”