Peace Corps Recognizes Hispanic Volunteers in Fellows/USA Program at NMSU

Honoring Volunteers in the Fellows/USA Program at New Mexico State University during National Hispanic Heritage Month

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 14, 2008 The Peace Corps Fellows/USA program recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Peace Corps Volunteers from New Mexico State University (NMSU) during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic students at NMSU have demonstrated the dedication and determination to achieve their goals by pursuing a graduate degree through the Fellows/USA program following their service as Peace Corps Volunteers.

The Fellows/USA program at New Mexico State University provides Returned Peace Corps Volunteers an exciting, hands-on opportunity to use the experiences garnered overseas in an underserved community in the United States, said Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter.

Established in 1985, the Peace Corps Fellows/USA program is a graduate fellowship program offering financial assistance to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who pursue graduate studies in a variety of subject areas. Through internships related to their studies, Fellows also help meet the needs of underserved U.S. communities. The Fellows/USA program is affiliated with more than 40 universities nationwide. Since the programs inception, more than 3,000 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have participated.

Sue Forster-Cox, the NMSU Fellows/USA program coordinator and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, said of the local community context, The diversity of needs can be extreme here, by the U.S.-Mexico border, and the call for skilled people who wish to work with and for communities to address these issues, just as folks in Peace Corps do, is very real. Hispanic students in the Fellows/USA program are able to blend what they learned during their Peace Corps service and directly apply it to a wide range of situations.

The Peace Corps Fellows/USA program at NMSU was first established in 2003. Since then, six Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have graduated from the program. Currently, 12 NMSU students are enrolled in the Fellows/USA program. NMSU is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), with its full-time student enrollment consisting of over 40 percent Hispanic students.

Katharine Perez-Lockett entered the Peace Corps after graduating from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., graduating 1999. She served as a health and nutrition Volunteer in Nicaragua from 2002 to 2004. I was attracted to the Fellows program because it helped me continue an area of interest that developed while I was in the Peace Corps, said Perez-Lockett. I felt I needed to pursue a degree with this program because, as a Hispanic, I wish to help other Hispanics populations in this area through public health.

The Peace Corps Fellows/USA program has affected my goals in life by giving me the motivation and inspiration to continue with international work, continued Perez-Lockett. I think it is important for people from the U.S. who are not typical Americans to go overseas and represent the U.S. It gives people from other countries a different perspective of who we are as a country. Perez-Lockett will graduate with a Master of Public Health degree this December from NMSU.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 47-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are 8,000 Volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. To learn more about the Peace Corps, please visit our website:

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