Knewton Office Manager Stacy Tice shares her experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and offers advice about how to earn graduate credits while serving.
Are you debating whether to join Peace Corps or go to graduate school? I was very anxious to live overseas, use my Spanish every day, and face the unknown—so I chose to go directly into the Peace Corps after graduating from college. However, looking back, I think I could have benefited from combining my experience as a Volunteer with graduate study.
Many people think that Peace Corps Volunteers mainly dig ditches and teach English, and although that may have been true 30 years ago, it is far from the truth today. Programs have extended their reach to include business development, environmental, health care-related, and information technology work. And, depending upon your interest and courses of study, there are many opportunities to gain valuable experience overseas that will benefit your host community, while also earning you a graduate degree.
Peace Corps offers two programs that allow you to both Volunteer and get an M.A.: Master’s International and Fellows/USA.
Master’s International enables you to combine your Master’s degree with overseas service through its partnerships with colleges and universities across the United States. This program not only offers academic credit and financial incentives to Volunteers, but allows you to be creative in folding your real-life experiences overseas into course credit.
The Fellows/USA program offers an opportunity to further your service upon arriving back in the States. Returned Volunteers work paid internships in underserved U.S. communities in exchange for scholarships or reduced tuition at participating graduate schools. The idea of Fellow/USA program came from a Columbia University researcher who found returned volunteers had the communication skills, creativity, and resourcefulness sought out by the Board of Education of New York. I knew a few returned Peace Corps Volunteers who went to work in inner-city schools after their service, and they all had very positive experiences.
Graduate school teaches a good amount of theory, but without the real-life experiences to back that up, an individual cannot stand out in today’s job market. Both serving in the Peace Corps and attending graduate school are once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so why not do them together.
RPCV Stacy Tice (Honduras ’03-’05)