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UA Nation's 2nd Top Producer of Peace Corps Fellows
A total of 135 fellows have contributed 135,000 hours of service in southern Arizona since the corps' inception.
A total of 47 U.S. colleges and universities are part of the program. Johns Hopkins University tops the enrollment rankings with 56 Peace Corps fellows currently enrolled. The UA ranks No. 2 and the University of Denver is at No. 3, with 52 and 46 fellows respectively.
The returned volunteers complete internships in underserved U.S. communities and use the skills they acquire to make a difference in the states. "The UA graduate-level Peace Corps fellows are outstanding students, who are optimistic, yet practically concerned, with building a better world. With scholarship support, the fellows contribute 500 hours of service each year to community-based organizations within Tucson and its surrounding areas," said Georgia Ehlers, coordinator of internships and community engagement at the UA Graduate College.
Many of the fellows are not natives of Arizona but chose the UA, Ehlers says, because of the degrees offered and they find that the cultural sensitivities and experiences gained as Peace Corps Volunteers fit well serving within Tucson’s multicultural populations.
Many of the fellows who serve in Tucson continue their work by accepting permanent positions with the organizations.
One of them is Amanda Kucich. She served in Samoa and her community service internship as a fellow entailed strengthening six local nonprofit agencies that work to prevent family violence with evidence-based family violence prevention practices. Her service to the United Way of Tucson, her degree in public administration and her Peace Corps training has led to a paid position with United Way of Tucson as director of youth services.
Another UA Fellow, Brooke Bender, who served in the Peace Corps in South Africa, has worked with the Arizona AIDS Education & Training Center to extend AIDS/HIV testing to all emergency room patients in Tucson hospitals. Bender is currently in Rwanda for the summer helping assess where to place an AIDS/HIV clinic and will return to the UA this fall to complete the second year of her master’s program in public health.
Hannah Carlson, who served in Azerbaijan, is working toward a master’s in public health at the UA. As a fellow, she interns with the Arizona Cooperative Extension for Santa Cruz County in Nogales. Carlson works to educate the community on nutrition and to promote 4-H youth development outreach programs.
Her work on nutrition involves visiting four Rio Rico elementary schools each month teaching kindergarten through second grade students about the food pyramid. Carlson has developed culturally relevant and appropriate brochures in English and in Spanish to promote 4-H’s safe, constructive and creative activities in a community with no history of involvement with the program.
“We are always looking for community organizations to partner with. These students are trained in community building and the interns can substantially contribute to areas and organizations of need,” Ehlers said.
The Fellows/USA program began in 1985 at Columbia University Teachers College and now the Columbia program has more than 400 returned Peace Corps volunteers to its name. The UA program started in 2000, and has 20 incoming fellows this fall. In all, 135 fellows have contributed 135,000 hours of service in southern Arizona.
“These programs offer a unique synergy of service, global competency and academic knowledge to people who are comfortable leaving the beaten path,” said Eileen Conoboy, director of university programs at the Peace Corps and was Peace Corps volunteer in Mali. “It’s a great way to make a difference in the lives of others, gain international development experience, become fluent in a foreign language and earn an advanced degree.”
The Peace Corps is celebrating a 47-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are more than 8,000 volunteers abroad, a 37-year high. Since 1961, more than 190,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where volunteers have served. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.