Western Illinois University Celebrates 22 Years of Peace Corps Partnership with Two New Graduate Programs

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The Peace Corps and Western Illinois University (WIU) today announced the addition of two new graduate degrees under their Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. Now, students will be able to pursue graduate degrees in liberal arts and sciences, and community and economic development. Previously, WIU has offered a degree in rural community and economic development through their Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which has been a staple at the school for 22 years.

“We are delighted to partner with WIU to support our returned Volunteers as they pursue higher education and continue their commitment to service,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “Communities are moved forward by the selflessness of Volunteers, and returned Peace Corps Volunteers have unique skills and experiences to offer their local communities.” Continue reading “Western Illinois University Celebrates 22 Years of Peace Corps Partnership with Two New Graduate Programs”

Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Jessica Vig

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Name:  Jessica Vig
Country of Service:  South Africa, 2007-2009
Assignment: Community Health
Recruitment Territory:  Downstate and Western Illinois

My husband, Paul, and I served as a married couple in a small, rural community in South Africa.  As we returned to the U.S., hoping to share our stories with family and friends back home, we found that photographs provided a medium to discuss our joys and challenges.

Here is a ‘snippet’ of our service—themes, learnings, and ultimately, human to human connections—through pictures. Continue reading “Meet Your Peace Corps Recruiter: Jessica Vig”

Grad Student Builds Peace Corps Culture at WIU

Jake Hamilton (center) served in Morocco from 2013-15 as an economic and community development volunteer. He is now the new on-campus recruiter at Western Illinois University.
Jake Hamilton (center) served in Morocco from 2013-15 as an economic and community development volunteer. He now works as the on-campus recruiter at Western Illinois University.

Jake Hamilton didn’t quite know what to expect when he moved across the world to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer. Yet, the calling to serve others surpassed any fears he might have had.

“The Peace Corps is a challenge that one can only be fully prepared for by doing it,” said the Pekin, Ill. native. “That is part of the fun and growing experience.” Continue reading “Grad Student Builds Peace Corps Culture at WIU”

Peace Corps visits Western Illinois to find the next generation of international volunteers

Karen Mauldin-Curtis, right, is the program manager of the Peace Corps Fellows Program at Western Illinois. Returned volunteers Lexie Woodward (Nicaragua), Danny Ramirez (Benin), and Ella Lehmann (Ethiopia) are students in the WIU Fellows Program.
Karen Mauldin-Curtis, right, is the program manager of the Peace Corps Fellows Program at Western Illinois. Returned volunteers Lexie Woodward (Nicaragua), Danny Ramirez (Benin), and Ella Lehmann (Ethiopia) are students in the WIU Fellows Program.

Peace Corps recruiters will visit Western Illinois University Thursday and Friday, Sept.3-4, to speak with students and faculty about the personal and professional benefits of living and working in an international community. In addition, the Peace Car, an eco-friendly Smart Car decked out with the Peace Corps logo, will make its first visit to campus and will be photographed with WIU’s mascot, Colonel Rock III.

Some 358 WIU alums have served as Peace Corps volunteers since the agency’s inception in 1961. To build upon that legacy, Peace Corps recruiters Jessica Vig, Travis Bluemling, Jake Hamilton, and the Peace Car will be tailgating north of Hanson Field at WIU’s Ag Day on Thursday before the Fighting Leathernecks season-opening football game. Returned volunteers from the campus community and Macomb are urged to stop by, take a photo from the Peace Car, and meet with those considering service. Continue reading “Peace Corps visits Western Illinois to find the next generation of international volunteers”

WIU grad strives to make an impact as Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica

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Kevin McClellan, 22, of Tinley Park, Ill., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart for Jamaica March 9 to begin training as an English education volunteer. McClellan will make a difference teaching English to children ages 12 and younger and will work to expand literacy in both school children and community members to increase personal and professional opportunities.

“The reason I decided to join the Peace Corps was because I want to make in impact on this world one child at a time,” McClellan said. “I realize that international work is not glamorous and I will be faced with many hardships during my commitment overseas, but knowing that I am impacting lives will help overcome those struggles.” Continue reading “WIU grad strives to make an impact as Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica”

WIU graduate student helps others redefine their future with Peace Corps

315633_554586134552_1629581911_nIt’s been more than 50 years since President John F. Kennedy called Americans to service and created the Peace Corps. The message still resonates with Lexie Woodward, who served in Nicaragua from 2010-12 as a volunteer. Now as an on-campus recruiter, she is helping students at Western Illinois University find their own path to becoming volunteers.

Woodward shares her experiences and accomplishments living and working abroad in a new culture and provides information on Peace Corps’ work across the globe and its new application processes. In under an hour, WIU students can now apply to Peace Corps and choose the specific countries and assignments they’d like to be considered for, giving them greater control as they plan their careers and chart a path toward making a difference for others and themselves.

Woodward, a native of Portland, Ore., began her Peace Corps journey as an agriculture and food security volunteer in Nicaragua, helping to build 15 improved ovens and nine biofuel stoves. Additionally, she helped organize two pool tournaments, one to focus on HIV/AIDS awareness and the other to promote homemade animal feeds and the safe handling and disposing practices of agriculture chemicals. She also worked with women’s community bank, coordinated a drip-water irrigation project and painted a world map at an elementary school with the help of local children and another volunteer. Continue reading “WIU graduate student helps others redefine their future with Peace Corps”

Western Illinois University offers new opportunities with Peace Corps Prep Program, on-campus recruiter

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Returned Peace Corps volunteers, Western Illinois University staff, and Peace Corps Midwest Region representatives came together to launch WIU’s new Peace Corps Prep Program on Oct. 6.

Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill., is introducing new opportunities for students to explore and prepare for Peace Corps service. The Peace Corps Prep Program, which launched Oct. 6, is a specialized curriculum that prepares participants for Peace Corps or other global service through language and skills training as well as a service component.

WIU Provost Ken Hawkinson (who served in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa, from 1986-88) and Peace Corps Midwest Region Manager Brad Merryman (a returned volunteer who served in Costa Rica from 2010-12) joined WIU staff and returned Peace Corps volunteers to introduce the program and the new campus-wide Peace Corps recruitment efforts.  Continue reading “Western Illinois University offers new opportunities with Peace Corps Prep Program, on-campus recruiter”