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Earlham to launch new certification program to help students prepare for service in the Peace Corps

May 23, 2017

Earlham College is launching a new partnership with the Peace Corps that will enhance the College’s longstanding commitments to peace, social justice, and building global understanding.

Peace Corps Prep is the latest opportunity available to students through Earlham’s Center for Social Justice and the EPIC initiative. EPIC is a comprehensive program that enables students to look at problems from multiple angles and seek solutions to the world's greatest challenges through collaborative and project-based learning.

At Earlham, the Peace Corps Prep program will be one of sixteen Integrated Pathways available to students. Integrated Pathways are comprised of 4-6 courses that help students intentionally connect students’ academic passions with potential career paths. The Integrated Pathways — which focus on topics such as Art, Nature and Conservation, Law and Social Justice and Medical Humanities — are key components of EPIC.

“Students who participate in this program will have an edge in their application to the Peace Corps,” says Jennifer Seely, associate professor of politics and the director of Earlham’s Peace Corps Prep program. “Our students can also benefit by preparing for other international development opportunities if service in the Peace Corps isn’t right for them.”

Earlham is among the select few liberal arts colleges approved to offer such a program through the Peace Corps. The organization was established in 1961 by former U.S. President John F. Kennedy with help from Clarence Pickett, a former Earlham professor.

With its core Quaker values of peace and justice, Earlham College has a rich history of engaging students in service and social issues. In fact, Earlham ranked as high as fifth nationally for its contributions to the public good by Washington Monthly. That ranking was based, in part, on the percentage of Earlhamites serving in the Peace Corps, now totaling 235 graduates.

Earlham is also one of just two dozen institutions of higher education offering an endowed Bonner Scholar program for students with impressive service-oriented credentials coming out of high school.

“I feel like Earlham has already been doing a great job of preparing students for service in The Peace Corps for the past 150 years because of its Quaker values and wonderful support for service,” says Becca Sharp ’97, who was appointed by the Barack Obama Administration to work for the Peace Corps as a deputy chief of staff. Among her colleagues was Alan Price ’88, Earlham’s incoming president, who was the organization’s associate director of management.

Now that Sharp’s political appointment has ended, she plans to serve the Peace Corps in the same way that hundreds of Earlhamites have before her in countries like Mexico, The Philippines, Swaziland, Thailand, Nicaragua and Tanzania, among others.

“The Peace Corps has always been appealing to me because it’s about building community and supporting a community as a whole and becoming culturally aware of that which exists around you instead of making it about yourself,” she says. “That’s what attracted me to Earlham as well. The vibe on campus was about community rather than individualism.”

Peace Corps Prep will begin in the fall with a launch event during Price’s inauguration weekend. Under Seely’s leadership, students will have a mentor with direct experience as a health and nutrition aid in the Ivory Coast from 1992 to 1994.

"My Peace Corps service offered me an invaluable perspective on day-to-day life in the developing world, and that experience has indelibly shaped my life and my career,” Seely says of the work that later informed her scholarly interest in democracy and development in Benin and other western African nations.

“I'm so excited to help Earlham students embrace similar opportunities, because so many already have a passion for service, and this program helps prepare them to offer their best help no matter where they serve."

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. 

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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