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Peace Corps Prep now an option @ UMES

  • Targeted undergraduate classes can help applicants qualify

    Friday, August 11, 2017
    Meisha Robinson

    The Peace Corps is establishing an undergraduate certificate program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore that starts this fall. 

    The Peace Corps Prep partnership with UMES will combine targeted coursework with hands-on experience to prepare students interested in becoming Peace Corps volunteers or other intercultural field work. 

    “UMES is committed to providing international opportunities for our students, both academic and co-curricular,” said Dr. Latasha Wade, interim vice provost. “Offering a Peace Corps Prep program will complement our existing globalization efforts to provide our students with valuable leadership and professional development opportunities.” 

    The university's Center for International Education will oversee the Peace Corps Prep program, which will be available to undergraduates across all disciplines and majors. 

    UMES students will receive training in leadership skills, intercultural competence, in a foreign language and in a professional sector of their choice, such as education, health or the environment. That combination of training is designed to give them a competitive edge if they apply for Peace Corps service - and should continue to benefit them throughout their careers. 

    Meisha Robinson, a 1999 UMES alumna with a business degree, served in Benin from 2000 to 2002, where she did small business development. 

    “I trained women in cooperatives and small businesses in basic accounting, business management and marketing,” she said. "I also oversaw the implementation of Junior Achievement in two high schools.”

    UMES alumna Meisha Robinson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin

    Robinson's childhood dream was to visit Africa, and calls her two years in Benin “the most rewarding and impactful experience in my life. It gave me a better understanding of who I was and what I could accomplish. All of your usual comforts of home are taken away and you get to see who you are at your core." 

    Robinson also served in South Africa in 2012 as a Response Corps Volunteer - a program for Returned Peace Corps volunteers - to do a one month to a year of service. 

    “The Peace Corps taught me how to travel and be able to survive anywhere in the world,” she said.  “You can drop me anywhere. Whether I speak the language or not, I will be fine.” 

    Dr. Mark Williams, a math professor at UMES since 2000, served in the Peace Corps from 1971 through 1973 on the island of Antigua in the eastern Caribbean, where he taught general science, mathematics, physics and swimming. 

    “My motivation for joining,” Williams said, “was to serve my country in ways other than the military - plus it was a way to experience another country as something other than a tourist.” 

    Williams came away from the experience with “a better understanding of what America - and being an American - meant, (and) that I could live outside the United State and thrive, not just exist.” 

    UMES joins more than 75 institutions across the country that offer existing programs aimed “to meet demand for Peace Corps volunteers with a broad and relevant expertise as well as support schools' efforts to provide substantive, globally focused experiences for their students.” 

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has had 23 volunteers serve in the Peace Corps since its inception.