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Xavier University of Louisiana to Become First Historically Black University to Partner with Fellows/USA Program

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 2, 2004 – Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans, has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Peace Corps’ Fellow/USA program. Once Xavier enrolls its first Fellows, the university will become the first successful Fellows/USA program at a historically black institution of higher learning.

Xavier, which is the only historically black Catholic university in the country, joins the ranks of the more than 30 Fellows/USA partner universities across the country. Universities that participate in the Fellows/USA program ask returned Peace Corps volunteers to complete internships in underserved U.S. communities, in addition to graduate course work. In return, Peace Corps Fellows receive reduced-cost graduate education.

“The Fellows’ agreement with Xavier is a milestone in our efforts to make Peace Corps more representative of America’s population,” said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. “Americans are as individual as their backgrounds, and it is important that Peace Corps volunteers reflect America’s diversity.”

Currently, the Peace Corps is trying to raise awareness of overseas volunteer opportunities for all qualified Americans, especially in historically black and Hispanic colleges. At present, approximately 15 percent of volunteers are minorities and approximately 3 percent are African Americans.

At Xavier, Fellows who are interested in teaching math, science, or special education can apply for either of two programs. The summer program offers full tuition assistance, a signing bonus, and a training stipend as part of the university's Fast Track to Teaching program. These Fellows may earn teacher certification and will have the option to pursue a master of arts in teaching degree. Another option is for Fellows who are interested in teaching in these areas to enter the university's alternate certification master of arts in teaching program in the fall. These Fellows receive full tuition assistance for the 36 hours required to complete the courses. Fellows will teach in schools in the New Orleans area.

Fellows’ funding will come from a Transition to Teaching grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. The Xavier Fellows/USA program will be coordinated by Rosalind Pijeaux Hale, Ed.D. According to Hale, out of 54,782 teachers in Louisiana, 7,162 teachers or 13.1 percent do not possess certification in the areas in which they teach. In addition, the most recent census states that New Orleans Schools serve 31,904 children who live in poverty.

“As a partner with the Peace Corps Fellows/USA Program, Xavier University of Louisiana will offer returning volunteers the opportunity to earn advanced degrees in the unique environment of New Orleans,” said Kenneth G. Boutte, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “In return, Xavier will be enriched as these individuals add to the culture and diversity of the campus community and the greater New Orleans area. We are excited about the possibilities of this partnership.”

For more information about the Fellows/USA program at Xavier University, contact Hale at rhale@xula.edu. For more information about Peace Corps Fellows/USA, please click here.

Since 1961, more than 171,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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