The Peace Corp long has been an option for students as they graduate, but a partnership agreement between the organization and Pittsburg State University signed Friday now provides a better preparation process for students hoping to join.
Megan Corrigan is the study abroad coordinator at Pitt State and said she is excited for the school to become the seventh in the nation to enter into this type of partnership with the Peace Corp.
“It is such a great fit,” she said, adding that Pitt State’s programs in business and information, education, environment and health are natural fits with what the Peace Corp is looking for in volunteers.
“Our students are good, competent candidates to go into the Peace Corp,” Corrigan said.
The university has a transcript notation known as IKE, the certificate of international knowledge and experience, and Corrigan said students who complete the coursework often wonder what their options are.
“We have 21 students who finished IKE this semester and they’re asking, “What can we do next,’” she said.
She said the Peace Corp, a 27 month commitment that includes a living allowance, insurance, paid expenses and language, technical and cross-cultural training, is a great fit.
“It allows them to expand their experience,” she said.
She said Peace Corp participants also are given a $7,425 readjustment allowance at the end of their service.
However, Corrigan said only about one in three applicants are accepted by the Peace Corp, and the application process can take up to a year.
“One of the big things is it takes about a year to be accepted into the Peace Corp,” she said.
The new partnership will smooth that transition.
“We applied to be approved,” Corrigan said. “We put together a proposal of what our requirements would be. Peace Corp considered our proposal and gave us approval.”
Page 2 of 2 - While this does not guarantee that all Pitt State applicants will be accepted, it does help them to become better candidates.
Corrigan said international students cannot be part of the Peace Corps, but may be interested in the program in preparation for service in other, similar organizations.
During a short signing ceremony, guest speaker Jon Smythe spoke about his experience with the Peace Corp and his dissertation work on the topic.
“I talked about some of the Peace Corp impacts on my life and also on the lives of other returned Peace Corp volunteers who were part of my dissertation research,” Smythe said, adding that his dissertation was entitled “Culture Shocked: The Intercultural Experiences and Insights of Returned Peace Corp Volunteer Educators.”
He said he looked at cultural boundaries and the way that Peace Corp members looked at their own lives differently upon returning from other places around the world.
“I really believe that Peace Corp volunteers come back with a different view of the rest of the world and the countries that they serve,” Smythe said.
Now that the program is in motion, Corrigan said students will be able to take part in the Peace Corp Preparation Program, where they will be groomed and kept in touch with a recruiter for potential future service.
“It’s a way to open a door for students,” Corrigan said. “Our whole university is about opening doors for students.”