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Peace Corps Selects College for Prep Program

Unique Curriculum to Begin Fall 2014

March 18, 2014

Signing the agreement are (left) Peace Corps Cincinnati representative Katie Sylvester and Erika Goodwin, vice president for academic affairs. Looking on are: Tom Stillwell, associate professor of agriculture and a Peace Corps veteran; Tammy Fraser, director of career services; Mark Denniston, director, WC Work Program; Eric Guindon, director of the Peace Resource Center; Al Conklin, professor of chemistry and agriculture and a Peace Corps veteran; and Ron Rembert, professor of philosophy.

Signing the agreement are (left) Peace Corps Cincinnati representative Katie Sylvester and Erika Goodwin, vice president for academic affairs. Looking on are: Tom Stillwell, associate professor of agriculture and a Peace Corps veteran; Tammy Fraser, director of career services; Mark Denniston, director, WC Work Program; Eric Guindon, director of the Peace Resource Center; Al Conklin, professor of chemistry and agriculture and a Peace Corps veteran; and Ron Rembert, professor of philosophy.

WC is among six colleges and universities newly selected for the Peace Corps Prep program based upon the institutions’ demonstrated interest in promoting international learning and service opportunities to their students.

Carrie Hessler-Radelet, acting director of the Peace Corps, said the partnership is an example of its growing efforts to “foster stronger collaboration” with schools like Wilmington in preparing civic-minded students for international service.

Students with sophomore class standing and higher can apply to WC’s new Peace Corps Prep program beginning with the fall 2014 semester. It’s being administrated by Eric Guindon, coordinator of the Peace Resource Center at WC, and Tammy Fraser, director of Career Services.

They indicated that the College had much of the Peace Corps’ desired criteria already in place.

“Wilmington’s commitment to service and a global focus in our general education requirements align perfectly with the Peace Corps’ mission to provide trained service while promoting intercultural understanding,” Guindon said.

He noted that the College has “historically strong ties” to the Peace Corps. Indeed, two faculty members are Peace Corps returned volunteers and will be part of the campus committee that will review and select applicants.

Guindon spoke of a “values alignment” that exists between the College and Corps, and added that many WC students have been meeting most of the requirements by virtue of their taking advantage of the College’s hallmark for hands-on learning.

Requirements for Peace Corps Prep at WC include a minimum of 100 hours of service as an undergraduate, coursework featuring Spanish and global awareness, experiential learning and a focus upon content knowledge in agriculture, education or health care. Also, other outside-the-classroom programming will be featured.

Students completing the Prep program will be recognized at their WC Commencement ceremony, in addition to earning priority consideration for opportunities in the Peace Corps.

Fraser said a stint in the Peace Corps not only can be a personally rewarding experience but also one that enhances one’s career preparation and opportunities.

“Peace Corps provides its volunteers with high level work experience, as well as the opportunity to make a difference in the world,” she said, noting they often lead projects, make critical decisions and work under limited supervision in their fields.

Additionally, the communication skills and cultural literacy they develop as a result of their international work experience provides them with unique qualifications when they return to the U.S. workforce, she added.

“How many job candidates can say they have successfully lived in and learned to navigate a new culture for two years, collaborated effectively with diverse community partners in solving critical problems and conducted business in a language other than English?” she posed.

“In our increasingly diverse global market, it can be a huge asset to have employees that bring not only a different cultural awareness, but also a fresh perspective from what they have learned in other parts of the world,” she said. “Plus, a candidate that has dedicated two years of their life to service also demonstrates an ability to commit to working toward a challenging mission.”