University Programs Support Students Interested in Peace Corps

Alshaatha and Andrew in front of Gearhart Hall.
Juan Rodriguez

Alshaatha and Andrew in front of Gearhart Hall.

The University of Arkansas has a partnership with the Peace Corps to prepare students for service through the campus Peace Corps Prep certificate program. The Prep program helps students learn how to leverage their training and experience as well as enhance foreign language proficiency, intercultural competencies, and professional leadership development, in order to become intercultural leaders upon graduation. The program is open to students of all disciplines and majors with interest in service.

The Prep program is managed and advised by Alshaatha Alsharji, a doctoral student in cultural studies at the U of A. She will help students prepare for service in six sectors being agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development. "While it is not guaranteed that students enrolled in the PCP program will be admitted to Peace Corps, it is still a tool that will give students a competitive advantage and help them build professional specialty and deepen cultural agility," said Alsharji.

"I am excited the UA partners with the Peace Corps to offer this program," said Curt Rom, associate dean for International Education. "This program is a great way to prepare students for service both internationally and domestically and creates a pathway to service in the Peace Corps after graduation. Participating students will increase the university's and state's international footprint, and the international experiences they bring back prepare them for rewarding careers in the global marketplace and add value to the Arkansas economy and communities."

A returning Peace Corps volunteer network of faculty, staff and students has been established on campus. The network, coordinated by Andrew Van Lew, the international student advisor in the office of International Students and Scholars and himself a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, will assist in advising and mentoring students in the Prep program, and conduct other events and activities promoting the Peace Corps on Campus. Van Lew emphasized the importance of the network and noted,  "just as we have a diverse array of students here on the U of A campus participating in the certificate program, we also have a diverse group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to guide and mentor our students through the certificate and application process. No matter what the questions, concerns or interests may be, I think that we have an RPCV network member who can be matched to you to guide you on your journey through the program."

The university is one of only 100 Peace Corps Prep partner schools in the United States. Approximately 20 U of A alumni serve as Peace Corps volunteers annually and there are approximately 20 returning volunteers among the faculty, staff and students.

A new website has been launched to help students prepare for the Peace Corps through their academic and co-curricular activities, and to guide them through the Prep program. The site also features returned volunteers working at the university. Students interested in completing the Peace Corps Prep certificate program should visit the new Peace Corps Prep website or contact the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange.



Alshaatha Alsharji, advisor, Peace Corps Prep Program
Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange

Andrew Van Lew,
International Students and Scholars


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