Rachel Pricer, ’13, got her first glimpse of poverty at the age of 12 when she accompanied her parents on a mission trip to Honduras to help build a church. Since then, her understanding of poverty has grown alongside her interest in working to eliminate it.

At 15, she again joined her parents on a mission trip, this time to Baja California, Mexico to help build a house for a woman and her children. “I was older then and I understood the significance of what we were doing for her,” she says. “I remember them being so happy. From my perspective they were poor, but they were content. That was a realization for me. They weren’t caught up in materialistic things. There was simplicity in life.”

A native of Taiwan, Pricer lives with her adoptive parents in Portland, Oregon. Her parents were missionaries in Taiwan when they adopted her. Two years later, she and her family moved back to the U.S.

Pricer took her first solo mission trip to Jamaica when she was 18 and was tapped to be a leader of several groups of volunteers, most around her age. She found the responsibility challenging but rewarding. “I got to see how people functioned together in a different environment and in conditions they were not used to.”

When it came time for Pricer to look at colleges, she was drawn to the University of Richmond because of its study abroad programs and growing focus on international studies. She applied for and received a need-based scholarship and is now majoring in French and international studies with a concentration in international development.

Her participation in the Sophomore Scholars in Residence global health class helped solidify her interest in helping others fight poverty. As part of the class, she and classmates traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit Esperanza, a nonprofit focusing on micro-credit financing for women. “That was something that opened my eyes to having a different perspective on how to fight poverty,” she says.

After graduation, Pricer hopes to live in a developing country and work for or partner with a non-governmental organization (NGO). “I want to work hands-on with people and interact with them,” she says. “I like being in the field.”

She will get a chance to learn new skills during a fall study abroad semester in Dakar, Senegal. “It’s perfect for my concentration,” she says. “I am taking classes that will be all in French. I will have a research project or internship with a local NGO.”

When she completes that semester, she will take part in a second study abroad semester in Thailand where she will work with a local NGO.

Her travels will start this summer when, thanks to a scholarship, she heads to Thailand to work with a non-profit organization. “The organization works mostly with women and children who are at risk or are poor,” Pricer says. “It is helping to restore their lives.”