Peace Corps prep

Fischer stands on rural hillside with two young students.Erin Fischer, ’10, poses with a couple of her students in Ecuador during her Peace Corps time there from 2014-16.

UWL adds preparatory program

Students attending UW-La Crosse thinking about the Peace Corps will have a specific core of studies to give them a leg up when trying to get into the prestigious volunteer program.

UWL and the Peace Corps have entered into a new partnership for an undergraduate certificate program called Peace Corps Prep.

“The Peace Corps Prep program will prepare students for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service,” says Karolyn Bald, assistant director of UWL Career Services. The prep program will launch in February 2019.

Bald says UWL students will have the opportunity to build skills in four core competencies crucial for success — interrelated coursework, hands-on experience, intercultural competencies and development of professional skills.

“Ideally, these skills are valued by all organizations, but the Peace Corps has specifically identified these as desirable skills to acquire prior to service,” notes Bald.

Peace Corps Prep will be structured as an interdisciplinary certificate program housed in the Academic Advising and Career Services Office, and the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. Students will learn about and practice leadership, intercultural competence, foreign language, and a professional sector of their choice such as education, health or the environment.

“Our hope is to help students deepen their learning experience by being able to apply the knowledge gained in one discipline to other disciplines,” explains Bald. “The program will then help students develop additional professional competencies through requiring hands-on experience in our own community to further this knowledge and increase intercultural awareness.”

The Peace Corps has prep partnerships with more than 90 academic institutions nationwide. UWL will be only the second university in Wisconsin to have the prep program that was established in 2007. The program aims to meet the demand for Peace Corps volunteers with a broad and relevant set of expertise, along with supporting schools’ efforts to provide substantive, globally focused experiences for their students. Learn more about Peace Corps Prep

Hokenson poses with three students at a table with workbooks and flash cards.

Andrew Hokenson, ’97, while teaching English during his Peace Corps volunteer service in Thailand. Hokenson, who majored in marketing with an international emphasis, is now on the staff at the Washington D.C. head¬quarters where he helps support the recruitment of the best and brightest volunteers.

Peace Corps Prep

Peace Corps Prep is a certificate program for undergraduates that centers on one empowering question: How can you prepare yourself to be the best Peace Corps Volunteer you can be? There is no one right answer to that question, but the Peace Corps has identified four core competencies that are …

Since 1961, UWL has had 272 Peace Corps volunteers, with 10 students currently serving.

Bald says over the years, UWL students and alumni have consistently shown an interest in service opportunities, including the Peace Corps. “In fact, Peace Corps recruiters have indicated the best attendance at information sessions has occurred at UWL,” she notes.

In fact, it was Andrew Hokenson, ’97, who majored in marketing and international business and Peace Corps alum who encouraged UWL to apply for the prep program. Hokenson taught in Thailand during his service and is now a program analyst with the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC.

Find out more about UWL’s Peace Corps initiative.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the U.S. to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.