By Alex Spence, University of Mary Washington

A new agreement with the Peace Corps will give UMW students an edge in the competitive volunteer initiative. Beginning fall 2017, Mary Washington will offer the Peace Corps Prep program.

“The prep program enhances students’ undergraduate experience by preparing them for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service,” said Assistant Director of Career Services Kyle Danzey, who will coordinate the UMW program, providing guidance to students throughout their application process and service.

Administered by the U.S. government, the Peace Corps encourages cross-cultural understanding between America and other countries. Volunteers commit to live and work in communities across the globe for as long as 27 months. The application process has become increasingly competitive with an increased desire to make global learning part of the college experience.

Introduced just two years ago, the certificate program facilitates the development of four core areas – training and experience, foreign language proficiency, intercultural competence, and professional development and leadership – each critical to the success of Peace Corps volunteers.

The four-year initiative invites students to complete on- and off-campus classes and activities that will help them meet experiential learning, as well as some major and minor, requirements.

UMW has worked throughout the past two years on the extensive application process, involving the Center for International Education, the Center for Career and Professional Development, and the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success.

While completing the program won’t guarantee acceptance to the Peace Corps, it will give Mary Washington students the tools they need to be among the most viable contenders.

For the 13th year, the Peace Corps named the University of Mary Washington among the nation’s top-producing small schools. This year, UMW ranks No. 2, with 13 alumni currently volunteering worldwide. A total of 253 alumni have served the 27-month commitment since the Peace Corp’s inception in 1961.

Recruitment for the prep program will begin with the incoming class of 2021, with likely entry points available to students who expect to graduate earlier.

“We hope this program will better prepare students to be preferred candidates during the Peace Corps application process,” said Danzey. “This program will ensure students have the skills preferred by the Peace Corps.”

For more information, visit UMW’s Peace Corps Prep Program website.
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