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Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Eligible for New Grad Scholarships

AU Peace Corps fellow Bob Schlehuber

AU Peace Corps fellow Bob Schlehuber with students during his service in Pryvillya, Ukraine.

As a university with a deep commitment to serving the public interest, American University’s ties with the Peace Corps began soon after John F. Kennedy first announced the creation of a volunteer organization to promote world peace.

Now, through a new initiative that provides graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers, a new generation of peacemakers will be able to combine their academic and professional endeavors with their continued desire to give back.

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, a partnership between the Peace Corps and American University, will allow students to pursue graduate degrees in eight areas of study within AU’s School of International Service. Qualifying fellows will be offered six credit hours of remitted tuition to apply toward their master’s degree programs. For the 2012-2013 school year, this totals $8,394.  

“The Peace Corps is delighted to have American University as a partner in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program,” said acting Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “This new partnership enables returned Peace Corps volunteers to continue their work in public service through meaningful internships in underserved American communities. Experience overseas and graduate studies position Peace Corps Fellows to launch a career by combining coursework with service.” 

American University will offer remitted tuition for returned Peace Corps volunteers in the following master’s programs in the School of International Service: Comparative and Regional Studies, International Economic Relations, International Politics, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, International Development, International Communication, Global Environmental Policy, and U.S. Foreign Policy.

“For generations, our students have pursued public service—a distinct hallmark of our university. With this program we reconfirm our commitment to educate the next generation of thoughtful citizens as they seek to create meaningful change both here and abroad,” said American University Provost Scott Bass.

All fellows complete a degree-related internship in an underserved community, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as Peace Corps volunteers. 

Fellows selected to American University’s program may elect to complete their internships at the Woodrow Wilson High School, the One-on-One mentoring program, Columbia Heights Educational Campus, and other D.C.-area organizations.

Graduate student Bob Schlehuber (SIS/MA ’13) is one of several fellows who started their graduate program at American University this past fall. When not in class working on his graduate degree, Schlehuber goes to another class twice a week with students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School teaching lessons on global citizenry.

“These were my favorite lessons to teach while in the Peace Corps, and I was so lucky to continue my Peace Corps work at home,” Schlehuber said.

AU’s School of International Service founded in 1956 as a result of President Dwight Eisenhower’s observation that the United States needed to increase its capacity to train young men and women to “wage peace” around the world, aligned perfectly with the university’s mission then as it does today to actively encourage public service. 

This mission continues through as American University and the Peace Corps offers three Master’s International graduate programs in TESOL and public anthropology, as well as an integrated School of International Service offering. MI students combine Peace Corps service with graduate studies at AU.

Earlier this month, American University ranked second on Peace Corps’ top volunteer producing college list in the medium category. Since 2003, American University has consistently ranked on the list. Nearly 900 American University alumni have served as volunteers overseas since the Peace Corps was established in 1961.  

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program started in 1985 at Teachers College, Columbia University and now includes more than 80 university partners in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The program is specifically reserved for students who have already completed their tenure abroad with the Peace Corps.