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OU’s Peace Corps Prep Program Readies Students for Service Abroad

OU’s Peace Corps Prep Program Readies Students for Service Abroad

From internships to graduate school to the Fulbright Program, there are many options for students to work or study abroad after graduation. But few are as iconic, unique and suitable for future leaders as Peace Corps. Peace Corps was created in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, Jr. as an international volunteer organization that would promote peace by fulfilling three goals: 1) to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; 2) To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and 3) to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

How Does Peace Corps Work?

Peace Corps accepts volunteers of any age, but it is an especially popular path for recent college graduates interested in service, leadership and working in a globally-minded, cross-cultural context. Peace Corps Volunteers can apply to serve abroad in a range of different areas, including environmental and agricultural initiatives, community development, education and health. Service is usually two years, with an additional three months of training to start. Peace Corps Volunteers receive housing and a stipend to cover costs of living during their service, and come away with a strong resume that opens the door to a wealth of career opportunities.

Courtney Crowder, CIS International Student Programs Coordinator, is the new coordinator of our Peace Corps Prep (PCP) program for students interested in Peace Corps. As a former Youth Development Peace Corps Volunteer in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from 2012-2014, the program is close to Crowder’s heart. “I loved my time in the Peace Corps and learned so much during my 32-month service,” she says. “My primary project was working in library development in a primary school and my secondary project was implementing Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). I will forever be grateful to Saint Vincent for hosting me and the amazing lifelong friends I met during my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer!”

Peace Corps Prep at the University of Oklahoma

Because the program is both popular and demanding, Peace Corps requires a rigorous application process, and candidates should show they are qualified to work on community issues internationally. Peace Corps Prep aids students in the process through a certification program that combines coursework, community service and leadership activities. Students can choose a concentration in environment, health, or community economic development, and are awarded a certificate from Peace Corps upon completion. While the program does not guarantee acceptance into the Peace Corps, it gives applicants the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.

“A certificate in the Peace Corps Prep program is saying that one has the skills and experience to become a Peace Corps Volunteer,” Crowder explains. “Also, the Peace Corps Prep certificate can help with other career paths related to a student’s area of concentration by showcasing that one has skills and experience in this specific field.”

Tirzah Perry
Recent Peace Corps Prep graduate Tirzah Perry

Tirzah Perry, an OU December 2020 graduate from Broken Arrow, OK, is OU’s most recent recipient of the PCP certificate. A community health major and nonprofit minor, Perry has long dreamed of joining Peace Corps. “I want to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer because I want to share my passion for and knowledge of public health and health promotion with other people, empowering others to take control of their health,” she says. “The Peace Corps presents the opportunity to do everything I’ve ever wanted: to travel and live abroad, to become a global citizen, to teach my passion, to learn from others, to empower others and myself, and to be directly involved with health equity issues, and to see the world from a new perspective.”

Perry, who hopes to serve in Africa, completed her certificate in the health sector. Her volunteer experience included work with OU’s Chapter of Global Brigades, which allowed her to travel to Panama to shadow doctors, assist in a pharmacy and participate in a community health project and health-related workshops for children.

Regardless of whether she is selected for Peace Corps, Perry values the experiences and knowledge she gained earning her PCP certificate. “I feel that the Peace Corps Prep program benefited me in that it allowed for me to gain an even deeper understanding of the world and global issues due to its intercultural competence requirement,” she says. “I took classes that I had never even thought about taking previously, but found myself enjoying the most! These courses pushed me to think about the world around me in new ways and allowed me to gain unique perspectives. It also forced me to go out of my way to get involved, taking on leadership roles in my various organizations and seeking out new experiences.”

To learn more about Peace Corps Prep and to apply, visit our Peace Corps Prep website or contact Courtney Crowder.

For more information on the Peace Corps, visit


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