SIA begins new partnership with Peace Corps for returning volunteers

Returning Peace Corps volunteers who want to build on their experiences abroad through graduate education will find a new and exciting opportunity at the Penn State School of International Affairs, thanks to a new partnership with the Peace Corps.

The School of International Affairs (SIA) is now participating in the Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which financially supports returning volunteers who want to build on their global experiences by obtaining a graduate degree.

“The School of International Affairs curriculum reflects many of the themes and values of the Peace Corps in that we teach, train, and prepare our students to go out and make a difference in the world,” says SIA Director Scott Gartner. “We have terrific students from nearly 20 countries across the world, so to bring in these Peace Corps alumni with so much to share will enrich our classrooms while at the same helping them get a great global career, thanks to our 96 percent placement rate.” SIA provides an intimate, small classroom setting that allows for extensive access to renowned experts on international issues and interaction with outstanding students from around the world

Peace Corps Program Specialist La’Taeshia Sykes says the School of International Affairs is a perfect choice for returning Peace Corps volunteers because of the program’s intensive international curriculum, access to student support and financial aid, and opportunities for continuing their volunteer work.

These Peace Corps fellows will have an opportunity unique to the School of International Affairs during their time in the program. Having already gained experience working abroad, which is a critical element of the SIA program, Paul D. Coverdell fellows will intern with community organizations at Penn State and in State College to benefit underserved communities here in the United States.

“This is a great opportunity for us to learn from one another,” says president and founder of the Jana Marie Foundation Marisa Vicere, a State College nonprofit that educates and empowers youth on the subject of mental health. “These volunteers have experience from their time with the Peace Corps in building networks and implementing programs, so while they learn from us we’ll also be able to learn from the work they’ve done elsewhere.”

Paul D. Coverdell Fellows will be able to pursue master’s degrees in any of SIA’s nine concentrations, allowing them to apply their experience in new and innovative ways while gaining the skills and knowledge to become leaders in crafting solutions to global problems.

“This is a great fit,” says SIA Director of Career Services Grant Littke. “These volunteers already have experience working in the issues that inform our curriculum, from conflict resolution and development policy to humanitarian response and human rights.”

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program has helped more than 5,000 volunteers pursue graduate degrees across the country. In addition to the School of International Affairs, the Penn State Smeal College of Business and College of Agricultural Sciences are also participating in the program and will offer assistance to Peace Corps volunteers.

The School of International Affairs expects to accept its first Peace Corps fellows for the fall 2017 semester.