by Sherry Hu and Christina Arce

REDWOOD CITY (KPIX 5) — At a “good-bye” party, you can count on hugs, smiles and even a few tears.

“It’s sad, but it’s also very exciting,”said Mayra Sainz’s brother, Jose.

Exciting – because Mayra is headed to Africa for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps.

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“I’m excited and I’m nervous,” the Redwood City resident said. “It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, but it’s definitely something I want to do.”

For Mayra, the Peace Corps will be a bridge between graduation from University of California, Merced and a career in public health.  It’s also her “thank you” to those who supported her over the years.

“This is my way of saying I appreciate it and I’m paying it forward,” she said.

As a first-generation college graduate from a low-income family, Mayra understands struggle. She was only a toddler when her parents divorced; the memories of the years that followed release tears.

“I feel like I have overcome them but talking about them, everything resurfaced,” she sobbed. “It’s definitely in the past, my life is so different from what it was before.”

Because Mayra says her life now  – is great. Her mother remarried, she’s closer to her father and has a solid bond with her siblings.

Her brother described his older sister as “an inspiration” to him. Mayra’s younger sister, Aryam, added, “it’s going to be hard because she always helps me with my homework.”

Mayra will soon live in another part of the world, helping others learn about malaria, HIV and childhood nutrition.  Those close to her say they’re not surprised.

As her childhood best friend, Elisa Rodriguez, said, “She’s willing to give everybody her all. I can see her dedicating her life to helping others.”

  1. Brian Booth says:

    It is a tough job with lots of things that make it harder (living conditions, language differences, cultural differences, PC Bureaucracy, etc.) but if you can stick with it is is rewarding and at times fun.

    Brian RPCV (Armenia 2008-2010)

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