I joined the Peace Corps directly after finishing my undergraduate education. In July of 2007, I left for Mali, West Africa to begin my work as a Health Education volunteer. I lived in a small village that had no running water or electricity, learned a new language, and initiated a series of activities designed to improve the overall health of the community. My experience in the Peace Corps was an incredible, life-changing one, and I knew that the experience I gained there would make an impact throughout the rest of my life.
Even before joining the Peace Corps, I knew that one day I would return to school to earn a graduate degree. As I spent more time in West Africa, I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. As my two years of service drew to an end, I began looking for graduate programs that could help me gain the skill-sets necessary to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
As I looked at the degrees offered by the various partner universities, SPEA’s MPA program immediately caught my eye. When I learned that as a SPEA Peace Corps Fellow, I would receive a 6 credit hour discount as well as the opportunity to intern at a local nonprofit or public organization in exchange for financial aid, I knew that I had found the right program.
For those of you who are thinking about Peace Corps, there is also an opportunity to combine SPEA graduate studies directly into your Corps service. SPEA participates in the Master’s International (MI) Program, which allows a student to pursue a graduate degree and participate in the Peace Corps concurrently. It is a great opportunity to apply your graduate studies directly into the Peace Corps community where you’re serving.
SPEA’s Peace Corps community is a strong one. We have an RPCV group that is active. To celebrate National Peace Corps Week, we coordinated visits to local high schools, a Peace Corps information panel, and an International Night featuring both RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) and the extensive international student body. It is exciting to learn alongside other RPCVs.