Staff Report
Peace Corps release

WASHINGTON, D.C- Peace Corps volunteer Stephanie Chance, 26, of Phoenix, was discovered dead in her home in Zinder where she had recently arrived to aide communities in Niger. The exact cause of death remains unknown, but it appears at this time that it may have been from natural causes.

Friends of Chance remember her as a caring, driven

and funny woman who was a natural leader. “She wasn’t afraid to do

anything,” said Rachel Cohen, a close friend and Chance’s former


She was known by Peace Corps training staff for her smile and willingness to help others.

Chance began talking about joining the Peace Corps while working toward her master’s degree, said Sarah Rivers, another longtime friend. When Chance found out she was accepted into the program, “she was pretty happy about her assignment,” Rivers said, despite never having been to Africa.

Chance arrived in Niger for training

in July 2010 and was sworn-in as a municipal development volunteer on

Sept. 23, 2010. She had recently arrived at her site in Zinder and was

busy getting to know the community to help the local officials better

coordinate local government services and collaborative planning.

“My aspirations for my community are to assist them in identifying their

needs, and helping them imagine the changes they would most benefit

from,” Stephanie wrote in her July 2010 aspiration statement about her

work with Peace Corps.

Before serving with Peace Corps, Stephanie was an experienced certified

public accountant. Through Peace Corps service, Stephanie hoped to gain a

more global perspective and a better understanding of other cultures.

She held a B.S. in business administration and an M.A. in accounting

from the University of Arizona.

“This is a loss for our community. Peace Corps volunteers represent the best America has to offer – compassion, generosity of spirit and an enthusiasm for what is possible through cooperation. Stephanie’s sudden passing is terribly painful for the entire Peace Corps family,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

In recent weeks, Stephanie had made significant progress in learning the local language of Hausa. In September, she completed nearly three months of intensive pre-service training in the village of Hamdallaye, Niger.

She was fond of her host family and enjoyed talking with them in her newly acquired Hausa. Stephanie was an active leader among her training group. She organized basketball games and coached local youth in the sport. She cared about the people of Niger and found ways to contribute, including participating in the annual tree planting to celebrate Nigerien Independence Day and promote conservation.

Currently, there are 75 Peace Corps volunteers in Niger. The first group of volunteers arrived in Niger in 1962. More than 3,000 Americans have worked as Peace Corps volunteers in Niger on a variety of projects focused on health, education, agriculture, natural resource management and community development.

As Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 77 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.