Shawn Dolan knew as a senior in college that sitting at a desk in an office wasn't for him. The 1999 Sandusky High School graduate went on to the University of Cincinnati and earned a business degree in 2004, but it wasn't corporate America calling his name -- it was the Peace Corps.
"It was one of those things that I always thought about," he said. "I wanted to do work that would allow me to challenge myself. I don't want to just sit behind a desk and make money."
His mom, Sue Dolan, said the family didn't see it coming.
"We were flabbergasted," she said. "He had several really good job offers. But it was his choice, and we knew better than to mess with it."
After looking into it, Dolan decided to go to Asia. In April 2005 he arrived in the Philippines.
"I was looking to go somewhere non-Christian, non-English speaking. I ended up in the one predominantly Catholic, English-speaking county," he said.
Dolan worked as environment community volunteer in the San Agustin, Romblon area of the Philippines for two years. While there, one of the major projects he worked on was creating a nursery for mangrove trees, a type of tree found in the Everglades.
"It involved building community education, support and actually planting the nursery," Dolan said. "It wasn't my project; it was their project, because I'm guaranteed to leave. The sign it was a success was on my last day and someone else was managing it."
Dolan said the biggest difference from living in America and living in the Philippines is the availability of electricity and running water. He said the hardest part wasn't going there and adjusting to life -- it was coming back.
"I didn't have electricity five days out of the week," he said. "The difficult thing is adjusting back when you come back, seeing how it's wasted, how people waste their money. It's about not wasting and appreciating what you have and what you don't have."
While in the Peace Corps, Dolan earned $250 a month, which was still twice what a teacher made where he was staying. He said he didn't feel comfortable telling people how much he made, and didn't spend it too often because there wasn't much to spend it on.
Dolan will be in Sandusky 11 days before leaving again. He has spent the last five months in the Sorsogon, Bicol area of the Philippines and will be there until December.
After that he hopes to spend some time in the Crisis Corps, a sister agency of the Peace Corps, and eventually work for an organization similar to the International Red Cross.
"I want to do something that improves lives for a large amount of people," he said. "I think we as Americans really need to try to give back to improve situations overall."