Peace Corps Signs New Mexico State for Fellows/USA Program

{'html': "WASHINGTON, D.C., October 6, 2003 – New Mexico State University has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Peace Corps, marking the beginning of its partnership with the Fellows/USA program.

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. Returned volunteers are well suited to filling hard-to-staff positions or work in multilingual environments as a result of the language and professional skills they acquired during their Peace Corps service.

Fellows who participate in the New Mexico State University program will have the opportunity to work toward master’s degrees in public health (focusing on border health), nursing, or social work through the College of Health and Social Services. In addition to their studies, participants will work with individuals, groups, families, and communities on diverse health and social service projects and will serve as tutors and mentors to students and local youth. Nearly 18 percent of New Mexico’s population lives in poverty, the second highest percentage among the 50 states, according to a 2002 U.S. Census Bureau report.

Returned volunteers who served in Spanish-speaking countries will have an advantage at New Mexico State University due to its proximity to the Mexican border in Las Cruces. More than half of the area's residents are of Hispanic origin and in the outlying areas of Las Cruces, a significant number are recent immigrants. New Mexico State University is the only land-grant institution that is also classified as Hispanic-serving by the federal government.

“New Mexico State University is excited to be a partner with the Peace Corps Fellows/USA program, and to offer returning volunteers an opportunity to continue their Peace Corps work here along the U.S.-Mexico border region,” said Jeffrey E. Brandon, dean of the College of Health and Social Services. “We have several returned Peace Corps volunteers working in the college and look forward to bringing more graduate students with international experience to our university programs in order to fulfill the Peace Corps’ third goal of bringing the world back home.”

On campus, the Fellows/USA program will be coordinated by Daryl Smith and Sue Forster-Cox, both returned volunteers who served in Latin American countries. For more information about Peace Corps Fellows/USA, please visit the Peace Corps Web site at Fellows/USA has established similar relationships with more than 30 universities in areas ranging from education to health to public affairs.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, 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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