Truman offers new Peace Corps certification

Photo was taken in Kyrgyzstan on August 9th, 2012. We had a 2 week summer camp that taught our kids about leadership and creativity. Each day at camp was a dress up day and the day this photo was taken was "Hippie Day."

In cooperation with the Peace Corps, Truman State now offers a Peace Corps Prep certification to students, giving them a competitive advantage when applying to work with the organization.

To complete this program, students must take three courses within an area of service, three intercultural courses and complete fieldwork. These students then would graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a Peace Corps Prep certificate, which benefits them when applying for the Peace Corps. The official kickoff for this program is 7 p.m. today, Sept. 24, in the Student Union Building Hub.

Linguistics professor Mary Shapiro says she, along with Helen Lowman, Peace Corps Associate Director for Volunteer Recruitment and Selection, and Maria Di Stefano, Dean of Graduate Studies, will speak at this kickoff event. Returned Peace Corps volunteers living in the Kirksville area also will attend the event, Shapiro says. While certain majors are more relevant to the Peace Corps, Shapiro says any student can complete the Peace Corps Prep certification.

“Anybody from any major can do this,” Shapiro says. “What they need to think about is ‘What would I like to do? Would I be an education volunteer? Would I be an [agriculture] volunteer?’

Students whose majors relate to the Peace Corps can complete coursework within their major for Peace Corps Prep, Shapiro says. If a student’s major does not relate to the Peace Corps, Shapiro says they will have to decide what sector they want to volunteer with and complete coursework in that area to obtain the Prep certificate. One reason Shapiro says she wanted to bring Peace Corps Prep to Truman is because some of the course requirements for this certificate are classes students already take.

“For many of them, completing the requirements for this will be fairly trivial,” Shapiro says. “It will just be a matter of documenting experiences they would have had anyway.”

Shapiro says she hopes students will see how taking these courses prepares them for working with the Peace Corps. Shapiro says even if students who complete this program do not work with the Peace Corps, having this certification is still advantageous. She says it can demonstrate to employers and graduate schools that the student has valuable skills that can be used around the world.  Shapiro says this program gets students thinking about Peace Corps work and experience early during their college careers. 

“It’s a great fit for liberal arts in general. Our students looking for opportunities to get involved in things. This is a way of getting people to think about it a little earlier.”

                 – Mary Shapiro, Linguistics professor

For more information on the development of the Peace Corps program at Truman State read on Issuu.