Hartwick Spotlights Past and Future Peace Corps Volunteers
This spring, Hartwick College celebrates its connection to the Peace Corps, spotlighting an alumna who has devoted 10 years to the organization, and introducing its first three graduates of the state’s first and only Peace Corps Preparatory Program.
On Monday, April 30, Meleia Egger ’04 returns to the College from Washington, DC to share her experiences in the Peace Corps, which include teaching and doing outreach in Malawi, Africa, and later working as a recruiter in North Carolina.
Egger’s presentation will be held at 4 p.m. in the Professional, Service, and Global Engagement (PSGE) Center, Golisano Hall, on the College campus. The event is open to the public.
Further, this May, the College will graduate three students who have completed the Peace Corps Preparatory Program certificate program. Aslyn Avila ’18, Emily Davis ’18, and Katherine Shepardson ’18 are the first graduates since the program launched last November.
“The rapid progress we have made from program launch last year to the graduation of our first batch of highly promising Peace Corps Preparatory candidates this year is very promising,” said Director of Global Education & Service Learning Godlove Fonjweng, who is also the preparatory program director. “What’s even more exciting is that one of our graduates [Avila] is already going through the Peace Corps application process.”
Offered through the US Department of State, the Hartwick College Peace Corps Preparatory Program — one of only a few dozen such higher education curricula nationwide — is designed to help students develop skills and gain experiences that will make them more competitive when applying to volunteer with the Peace Corps or positions with international development organizations.
The program offers:
- Training and experience in one of six work sectors (education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development, or community economic development)
- Foreign language skills
- Intercultural competence
- Professional and leadership development
Enrollees are required to complete at least three courses that align with a specific work sector, and accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.
For completing the program, the students will be issued a certificate signed by the Acting Director of the Peace Corps in Washington, DC.
On Monday, the Hartwick community will have an opportunity to hear from a Peace Corps veteran.
“My Peace Corps Journey started when I flew from Madison WI, to rural Malawi to be an Education Volunteer in 2007,” said Egger. “Coming home from my enchanted life-changing two years of service in Peace Corps Malawi, I became a Peace Corps recruiter…After two years as a recruiter, I transitioned to my current dream job of Third Goal Program Specialist.”
Like Egger, all three current students enrolled in the preparatory program are passionate about the work and helping others. For Avila, a J Term trip to Thailand in 2017 helped spark her interest in pursuing Peace Corps certification.
“We got to spend a few days in villages in the mountains,” she said. “We didn’t have toilets, running water, or any fancy foods, but I still found myself enjoying the experience. I loved being around their culture, learning new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. It was this experience that led me to want to explore more of the world and look into the Peace Corps.”
“I am pleased our students have realized the value of the Hartwick Peace Corps Preparatory Program so quickly,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael G. Tannenbaum. “The fact that we have already produced three certified students indicates the pre-existing interest level our students have for this kind of work. I look forward to seeing more and more Hartwick students graduate with this certification, and use it to help make the world a better place.”
The College’s PSGE Center administers the program, and it is managed by a team of staff and faculty and supported by advisors from several academic departments.