Graduating Students Join the Peace Corps

Mary Marvin

It’s the time of year to start freaking out about what to do after graduation, although let’s be honest, it’s that time all year round.

Some students have it all planned out, right down to the outfit they will wear on the first day of their first real job, while other students are still in the dark. Then there are those who have no idea where they’re going or what they’re doing, but are still completely in control – the students going into the Peace Corps.

The University of Wisconsin– Stevens Point has two Peace Corps programs: the Master’s International Program and the Peace Corps Fellows Program.

The Master’s International Program is for students wanting to advance their degree and volunteer, while the Fellows Program for returning Peace Corps volunteers wanting to advance their education. Both require the participant to be away from home for long periods of time.

The Peace Corps sends its volunteers to the far corners of the globe, putting them to work in their field of knowledge. There are programs in more than 73 countries.

Potential volunteers are put through an extensive application process that can take 9-12 months. This consists of an online application, medical forms, and multiple interviews.

There are several reasons a student could want to join the Peace Corps. For some, it would brighten up their resume. For others it’s all about helping those in need.

For Alyssa Grams, the Peace Corps seemed like the perfect combination of adventure, learning, and helping.

“I wanted to join the Peace Corps because my passion in life is helping others and I am intensely curious about other cultures,” Grams said. “Through volunteering, I will have the opportunity to really immerse myself in a foreign community, where I will live and work with people very different from me. I know it’s going to be a challenge to be away from my family and friends for the 27 months of service, but I feel that I need to have my worldview challenged and to really test my personal and professional limits after graduating from UWSP. Besides, I love adventure!”

For Erin Donahue, the Peace Corps is an opportunity to make women’s lives safer.

“Thinking about my future career and goals, I realized that I am very interested in women’s health especially their reproductive health rights,” Donahue said. “The Peace Corps is an amazing organization when it comes to providing education opportunities for people abroad, including education about preventing sexually transmitted infections, birth control options, sanitation, and women’s rights. I wanted to be able to educate young girls, women, and men about the importance of sexual health as well as experience the beautiful and unique cultures around the world.”

Joining is a big commitment and all who volunteer should be aware of that. Participants have to spend three months training in the specific program they are assigned to, learning about how to do their intended jobs, and how to interactn with the people of their country. After training, it’s off to where the world needs them for an entire two years. Volunteers are allowed 48 days of vacation time, which most use to visit family and explore surrounding areas.

“Obviously volunteering with the Peace Corps and spending two years in a mentally and physically challenging environment away from family and friends is a huge commitment,” Grams said. “But I know that this has the potential to be one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences of my life, and I am very excited about that.” 

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