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Week of September 30, 2013

School of Nursing strengthens Peace Corps partnership with fellows program


The University of Michigan School of Nursing now offers the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program to returning Peace Corps volunteers who are interested in pursuing a master’s degree.

UMSN will award up to two $10,000 fellowships each year to new students. “The Coverdell Fellows Program is a means of recruiting candidates who have served in developing countries and have an understanding of global health issues,” said Leslie Davis, UMSN’s director of global and community outreach. “They bring language skills, experience with diverse populations, and they are accomplished in providing care with fewer resources.”

Peace Corps volunteers may not always have a clinical experience, but are generally involved in health education and community resource building. The Peace Corps requires a 27-month term of service so the volunteers experience a long-term immersion with an international community.

As part of the Coverdell Fellows Program, the students are expected to complete an internship or clinical placement related to their area of interest in an underserved local community. The intention is for those students to use the knowledge and skills developed abroad to improve people’s lives in the United States. Clinical placements could include sites such as Community Health and Social Services, Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, Ozone House, or Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services Health Clinic.

Davis expects these students to be excellent representatives of UMSN. “Peace Corp volunteers tend to be leaders,” she said. “They are people who stuck out what can be a very difficult experience. They are accomplished and capable of achieving great things.”

The program advances a goal of the Peace Corps “to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.” Originally called Fellows/USA, the program was established in 1985, to help returned volunteers support underserved American communities while pursuing their graduate education.

U-M and the Peace Corps have a unique relationship. In 1960, then John F. Kennedy challenged students at the university to promote peace by living and working in developing countries. That speech led to the development of the Peace Corps. U-M is now the fourth largest producer of Peace Corps volunteers with more than 2,500 alumni having served.

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