Continuing its long association with the Peace Corps, Stony Brook University is aiming to introduce students to the organization by launching a new program, Peace Corps Prep. “Prep” — a roadmap for students interested in becoming better global citizens — involves coursework, experience, leadership and career development.
For more than 50 years, Peace Corps volunteers have contributed ingenuity, creativity and dedication to help solve critical challenges alongside community leaders in 141 countries around the world. In fact, more than 200,000 Americans have given their time and expertise to help improve the lives of others less fortunate.
Earlier this year, the agency evacuated about 7,000 volunteers from host countries around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Peace Corps is again recruiting volunteers in anticipation of a return to service in early 2021.
“Our academic programs align beautifully with the Peace Corps,” said Marianna Savoca, assistant vice president for career development and experiential education at Stony Brook. “Since we are such a good match and have a great relationship, we were invited to apply for Peace Corps Prep. In fact, we were the only New York higher education institution to receive an invitation to apply this past year.”
The University had a Peace Corps recruiter on campus for several years before the agency ended that program in 2019. No new courses will be created for the current program, but rather it will leverage existing courses that are compatible with the Peace Corps’ service sectors. For each sector, students must take three courses.
“In addition to the coursework, they’re required to take classes in multiculturalism and complete 50 hours of related experience during their time at Stony Brook,” said Savoca. “There are also language requirements for those interested in certain regions.”
Any undergraduate can participate in the program. Those who express interest choose a sector and/or region and are assigned a career coach from the Career Center who will work with them to plan their coursework and experiences. Those completing the program earn a Peace Corps Prep microcredential. While completing the Prep program does not guarantee formal acceptance into the Peace Corps, this credential gives Stony Brook applicants a significant edge. Once accepted to the Peace Corps, volunteers make a 27-month commitment.
Established by the Kennedy Administration in 1961, the Peace Corps is an independent agency and volunteer program of the U.S. Government. Peace Corps volunteers are American citizens who work abroad for a period of two years after three months of training. Volunteers can work with governments, schools, nonprofits, entrepreneurs and more. After 24 months of service, volunteers can request an extension.
The Stony Brook University Career Center coordinates the program with a 15-person advisory board, including 12 faculty/staff and three students, one of whom served in the Peace Corps.
“I’ve worked with students, staff and faculty from multiple departments and interests,” said Delicia Kamins, a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy and former Peace Corps recruitment officer at Stony Brook. “Having served as a Peace Corps volunteer, being chosen to represent the best aspects of America by helping developing countries achieve their utmost potential is a great honor. It’s the sort of opportunity that flavors the rest of your life in the most positive way. From my experience working with student populations, I can confirm that Stony Brook students are up to the challenge and opportunity that the Peace Corps offers. I’m really proud of this program, and grateful to continue to serve both Peace Corps’ broader goals and the Career Center’s specific commitment to our students.”
— Robert Emproto