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Cronkite school recruits Peace Corps volunteers for graduate programs

ASU and Peace Corps build partnership through the Coverdell Fellows Program


Francisco Guerrero, ASU freshman and president of Make Your Impact Club, poses for a photo at the Memorial Union in Tempe, Arizona, on Thursday, October 11, 2018. 

The The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has partnered with the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program to give returning Peace Corps members an opportunity to earn a master's degree in journalism. 

This partnership is considered a step forward for the Cronkite school as it looks to expand recruitment methods for its graduate programs. 

The investigative journalism master's degree is designed for students without backgrounds in journalism said Rebecca Blatt, assistant dean of the Cronkite school. 

She said recruitment for the program can be challenging and that this fellowship enables them to recruit people from a select group who embody the values of the Cronkite school. 

“In thinking through what kind of interests and values we wanted at Cronkite, people who have volunteered for the Peace Corps tended to share a lot of those,” Blatt said. “We’re looking for people who are flexible, resilient, used to going into unfamiliar circumstances and really listen to members of the community.”

In an emailed statement to The State Press, Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen said the organization is pleased to partner with ASU and support returning volunteers as they pursue higher education,

“A graduate degree, along with the life-changing experience of Peace Corps service, uniquely positions returned volunteers to succeed in today’s global job market,” the statement read.

Proportion of volunteers at Peace Corps by sector. Source: Peace Corps.

Francisco Guerrero, president of ASU’s Make Your Impact and freshman studying business entrepreneurship, said he works with students interested in joining service organizations like the Peace Corps. He said the partnership is a wonderful opportunity for ASU students to become more involved in service organizations.

“Most of the time what gets students to actually sign up for organizations like the Peace Corps is when former members share their experiences and their motivations to go with them,” Guerrero said. “ASU has seen a lot of students become more involved in social activism in the last few months, and I think this partnership will just help that energy press forward.”

Stephanie Klees, a Peace Corps public affairs specialist, said the Coverdell Program has seen much success in providing educational opportunities to Peace Corps volunteers. 

“Since (the program’s) inception, a little over 5,000 returned volunteers have participated and continued to make a difference across the country,” Klees said. “It provides a great opportunity for returning members to continue their service while earning graduate degrees at a reduced cost.”

The Cronkite school has plans to expand its graduate program, including another investigative masters degree which will be offered under the fellowship in the future. 

“We weren’t able to include it at the beginning of our partnership because it hadn’t launched yet, but that’s the next step (for fall 2019)," Blatt said.

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