Three UT students became the first Longhorn cohort to complete Peace Corps Prep—a new intensive certificate program offering participants a competitive edge among the thousands of applicants and preparing them for their service abroad.
Peace Corps Prep integrates specialized course-work and professional development in a curriculum designed to cultivate the intercultural skills required of Peace Corps Volunteers. This April marks the first anniversary of the program, which became available to students at the University of Texas in 2019.
The program provides a way to recognize students whose interests align with the Peace Corps for their coursework and extracurricular service. It focuses on four core competencies: sector-specific skills, foreign language, intercultural competence, and professional and leadership development.
“Peace Corps Prep is a fantastic way to combine so many student interests in one program: traditional international-focused academic classes, cutting-edge experiential learning, service and student leadership opportunities and more,” said Michael Mosser, Peace Corps Prep faculty advisor at UT. “It gives you the chance to ‘try out’ much of what you’d be doing in Peace Corps, while also making the most of your experiences here at UT.”
Students in the program select one out of the six Peace Corps sectors: education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development and community economic development.
The first UT cohort completed the intensive program this past year. One of these students is Jenny Rodriguez, an international relations and global studies junior who completed the program in 2019 and was accepted into Peace Corps.
“Being a part of the Peace Corps Prep program has allowed me to fall in love with the creative possibility that lies at the intersection of languages, diverse ideas, and cultures,” Rodriguez said. “Through the coursework, sector-skills, professional, and leadership development, I gained invaluable skills in preparation for not just future Peace Corps service but also in my career. I encourage others to immerse themselves in a program that can increase one's level of cross-cultural competence.”
Radio-television-film alum William Severin Witte and Psychology alumna Paige Jones also completed the program along with Rodriguez.
Alumna Paige Jones
“Achieving the Peace Corps Preparation certificate was a great form of national recognition and the capstone to an outstanding program,” Witte said. “As a direct result, I have gained invaluable training, related work-sector experience, language skills, and leadership opportunities which provided unique insights in relation to my previous military career. I highly encourage this program to anyone wishing to pursue a position within the Peace Corps, government, or other service abroad in the future, or simply to increase one's levels of cross-cultural competence.”
Jones said the program is practical for anyone interested in developing cross-cultural skills, whether or not they are interested in joining Peace Corps.
“I chose to be a part of the program because I wanted to gain experience that would prepare me for future Peace Corps service,” Jones said. “I would recommend this program to all students. It allowed me to gain multicultural experience and take courses that I would never have signed up for. Receiving this certificate gave me the opportunity learn more about the Peace Corps and myself.
Since the creation of Peace Corps in 1961, more than 1,897 UT alumni have served abroad to as volunteers. This year, UT ranked first among top volunteer-producing universities in Texas. The Peace Corps Prep program continues that legacy of global service.
The Peace Corps Prep program is open to all majors, and students can enroll online. This Thursday, March 5, Texas Global will hold a celebration to commemorate the program’s first year at UT and tell students how to get involved.
Read more about Peace Corps Prep and learn how to apply on the Texas Global website.