Shippensburg University takes pride in a continuing partnership with the Peace Corps to implement the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program.

The Peace Corps founded the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program in 1985, which, “provides a great opportunity for returned Peace Corps Volunteers to continue their service to underserved communities while also pursuing graduate studies at a reduced cost,” said the Peace Corps.

Shippensburg was one of six new university partnerships, now among 120 institutions across the country, covering more than 200 programs and offering over 300 graduate and post-graduate degrees.

At Ship, the partnership means Peace Corps Volunteers have the opportunity to join the Master of Social Work (MSW) program, where they may share their experiences and expand on skills attained from their work in underprivileged countries.

During the announcement of the partnership, Dr. Marita Flagler, associate professor of social work and director of the MSW program, expressed, “we are very happy to have the opportunity to host the Coverdell Fellows in our Master of Social Work program.”

Coverdell Fellows receive financial assistance through designated graduate assistantships. They may work as a GA for the international studies program, in which they promote the Peace Corps Prep program, or the department of social work by assisting the Institute for Social Inclusion (INSINC).

Dr. Flagler co-coordinated the fellowship with Dr. Jonathan Skaff, professor of history and director of international studies. “The reason Dr. Skaff and I decided to apply for the program was because we believe Peace Corps students can bring a different perspective of the world to the classroom.”

The Peace Corps instills a strong sense of independence in its volunteers, cultivating qualities of leadership extremely beneficial to students individually, and to their academic programs. “A global perspective is helpful for faculty, students, and the community. Having Peace Corps students will help with this.” Dr. Flagler continued, “they can show us how we can all contribute to this world.”

The Coverdell Fellows program brings Shippensburg’s partnership with the Peace Corps full circle, as Ship is currently one of only five Peace Corp Prep programs in Pennsylvania.

The Department of Social Work has started accepting applications and anticipates the fellowship to officially take off in May 2021 with the start of a new cohort of the MSW program.

As the only school in the PASSHE to implement the program, Shippensburg University stands as a “pioneer” of social inclusion and internationalization. Dr. Flagler said it best. “We are here and we are welcoming.”