Olivia M. Route portrait
2018-2019 Luce Scholar

Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Olivia Route received highest honors when she graduated in 2015 from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, Russian Language and Culture, and a minor in African Studies. Through Penn Engineering, she studied in Ghana and interned with the Kumasi Community Water and Sanitation Agency. She taught English and math in a village school in Nepal as a Penn International Intern. Her passion for refugee support let her to volunteer for children in internally displaced people (IDP) settlements in Georgia. After graduation, Olivia moved to Armenia to serve in the Peace Corps. For two years she lived in a rural village, teaching 3rd-12th grade English and organizing educational activities. She partnered with a local NGO to develop a youth initiative fund, inspiring young people to create and implement their own community development projects. As project manager for Border to Border, a nationwide program teaching leadership and healthy life skills to over 1,000 youth annually, she engaged with the project on all levels, from writing grants to walking half the length of Armenia as a volunteer teacher. She then directed Armenia’s Girls Leading Our World initiative, securing funding through the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy Commission and two Let Girls Learn grants to empower hundreds of students across the country. Drawn to an opportunity to work with Syrian refugee youth, Olivia extended her Peace Corps service. Now at AleppoNGO, a Syrian-Armenian humanitarian relief organization in Yerevan, she writes grants, develops projects, translates articles, and implements a program for endangered language preservation and young refugee support. Selected to serve as the 2017-2018 Peace Corps Armenia Volunteer Leader, she trains incoming volunteers and supports others with problem solving and crosscultural advice. She plans to spend her life working in IDP and refugee relief, especially in youth programming and educational assistance for displaced children. Olivia likes hiking, running, theatre, and chocolate in all forms.