Ronald J. Peters, '59, and Lilia E. Peters
The son of a Buffalo brewery worker and union activist, Ronald (Ron) J. Peters graduated from Buffalo State in 1959 with a degree in elementary education and secondary social studies education. In response to President John F. Kennedy’s appeal in 1961 for young Americans to live and work in developing nations, and inspired partly by his Buffalo State professors, Ron volunteered for the Peace Corps. He was among the first 500 volunteers sent overseas. Ron was assigned to the Philippines, and thus became the first Buffalo State alumnus to serve in the Peace Corps. The Philippines project focused on introducing new science and English curricula in the public schools. This entailed working with elementary teachers in developing new lessons and classroom materials and teaching demonstration classes. Ron was assigned to Casiguran, Sorsogon, a fishing town in southern Luzon. During his two years in Casiguran, Ron developed a solid understanding of how to work effectively with people quite different than him.
Also in the Philippines Ron met Lilia, his wife-to-be. They actually re-met by happenstance three years later in Chicago while Lilia was working there in the exchange nurse program. Lilia has since worked for over 40 years in various nursing specialties. Following his return from the Philippines, Ron continued his education earning both master’s and doctoral degrees. He worked much of his career as a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois. Ron continued his commitment by working with some fellow returned Peace Corps volunteers in a foundation that provides college scholarships in the Philippines. Ron and Lilia established this scholarship to help students at Buffalo State to have their own ‘chance of a lifetime.’