The Peace Corps recently named UW a partner university in the Peace Corps Prep program. This diversity-focused program enhances students’ undergraduate experiences by preparing them for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service.
There are more than 140 Peace Corps Prep partner institutions across the country. Established in 2007, the program aims to meet the demand for Peace Corps volunteers with a broad and relevant set of expertise and to support schools’ efforts to provide substantive, globally focused experiences for their students.
The program at UW, launching this fall, will be administered by the Advising, Career and Exploratory Studies (ACES) Center. Students from all majors can apply to the program, which integrates coursework with hands-on experience and professional development.
“This Peace Corps Prep program will greatly benefit our students and our campus, and increase the number and diversity of UW students applying to the Peace Corps,” says Becky Despain, program coordinator and ACES special projects manager.
Students will use SOAR (service, opportunities, acquisition and research), a competency-based, experiential learning platform, to track their progress through the program’s four core competency areas: training and experience in a specific work sector; foreign language skills; intercultural competence; and professional and leadership development.
“Using the SOAR platform, students will see activity options, collect their experiences and reflect on their Peace Corps Prep competencies,” Despain says. “We also will establish a Peace Corps Prep cohort group and provide opportunities for students to connect with each other.”
As part of the program requirements, students will complete three courses and 50 hours of related field experience in one of six sectors that the Peace Corps serves: education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development and community economic development.
“These students’ passion to serve and make an impact is inspiring,” says Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. “Through the Peace Corps Prep program at the University of Wyoming, they can develop skills specifically targeted to Peace Corps service and careers in the international development and service communities.”
Upon completion of the program, students will receive a certificate from the Peace Corps. Receiving a certificate does not guarantee acceptance into the Peace Corps, but it gives students a competitive edge.
“This is an amazing opportunity for our students, even if they do not go on to volunteer in the Peace Corps,” says Jo Chytka, ACES director. “The experience that they gain from this program will be invaluable as they start and move through their careers.”
Earlier this year, UW was ranked No. 25 among medium-sized schools by the Peace Corps on its list of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. Since the agency’s founding in 1961, 422 UW alumni have served abroad as Peace Corps volunteers.
About the Peace Corps
The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment, and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a lifelong commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy.
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages have served in 142 countries worldwide.