Peace Corps, William Paterson U. launch new prep program

William Paterson University, together with the Peace Corps, launched a new undergraduate certificate program called Peace Corps Prep. By combining targeted coursework with hands-on experience, the program builds the competencies needed for students to go on to be strong Peace Corps volunteers or other intercultural fieldworkers.

“Students today are passionate about working with communities abroad to solve important challenges,” Peace Corps Director of the Office of University Programs La’Teashia Sykes said. “Through the Peace Corps Prep program at William Paterson University, students can develop skills specifically targeted to Peace Corps service and careers in the international development and service communities.”

Peace Corps Prep will be structured as an interdisciplinary certificate program jointly housed in William Paterson University’s Career Development Center and Office of Campus Activities, Service and Leadership.

Through a combination of coursework and hands-on community service experience, students will develop four core competencies that are critical to intercultural fieldwork: foreign language proficiency, intercultural competence, professional and leadership development, and sector-specific skills in one of Peace Corps’ six sectors (education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development or community economic development).

William Paterson University said it is uniquely positioned to partner with the Peace Corps because it has a longstanding tradition of service, strongly encouraging volunteer hours for all students prior to graduation; it is also the first university in New Jersey to require a course in civic engagement as part of its core curriculum.

“Civic engagement is a core value at William Paterson University. We are honored to be selected as a partner in this prestigious program, which will be a great asset to our already extensive commitment to creating civically engaged citizens,” Donna Minnich Spuhler, director of campus activities, service and leadership at William Paterson, said. “Students who complete the requirements of Peace Corps Prep will earn more than a certificate; they will have a great opportunity to gain knowledge and real-world skills to better the world around them.”

Since 1961, William Paterson University has sent 66 alumni into Peace Corps service. Several faculty have also proudly served.