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WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development ranks number 10 in the 2012 rankings of top Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate schools. Pictured here are students in Western's Peace Corps Fellows program at a workshop in late February.
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Peace Corps Fellows Program Among Top 10 in National Ranking

April 18, 2012

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MACOMB, IL -- Of the more than 70 schools that participate in the Peace Corps' unique Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate program, Western Illinois University is one of the top schools in the nation for the number of students currently enrolled.

According to a Chicago Regional Peace Corps Office press release, with 13 returned Peace Corps volunteers enrolled in the Coverdell Fellows graduate program, WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development ranks number 10 in the 2012 rankings of top Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows graduate schools.

"Most of the schools in the top 10 are longstanding Coverdell Fellows program schools," said Karen Mauldin-Curtis, program manager of the WIU Peace Corps Fellows Program. "Teachers College/Columbia is the flagship program -- focusing exclusively on preparing returned Peace Corps volunteers for teaching careers in urban schools -- and Johns Hopkins was the first school in the program to focus on health and nursing. Our program at Western was the first to move into the field of community development, and out of the 70-plus programs now, more than 20 of them are in the field of community development. Although this has increased the competition for the recruitment and retention of qualified students, we've continued to work hard to meet our enrollment goals," she added.

Western's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development has been in place since 1994 and is managed through the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU. Students in the program pursue graduate degrees in business administration; political science; economics; geography; health sciences; and recreation, park and tourism administration. The program recently expanded to include graduate degrees in sociology and educational and interdisciplinary studies, as well as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification.

After each Peace Corps Fellow completes his or her coursework and assistantship, he/she then serves in an 11-month internship position in an underserved rural community in Illinois. Mauldin-Curtis, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, said more than 100 returned Peace Corps volunteers have come through the WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development, and the program continues to thrive.

"We will be welcoming six new Peace Corps Fellows to campus for the 2012-2013 academic year," she noted. "Of the current group of 13 in the program, five will graduate this summer, four others will begin community-based internships in September, and the remaining four will continue with classes on campus in preparation for internships in 2013," Mauldin-Curtis added.

She also noted that Western's program is one of the few schools in the Coverdell Fellows network that ties the community-based internship to national service through the AmeriCorps program.

"We were an AmeriCorps 'national-direct' program from 1997–2003, then became an AmeriCorps 'state' program in 2003. We remain a state program through funding from the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. This is a unique opportunity to bring international service experience back 'home,'" Mauldin-Curtis said.

"WIU's Peace Corps program attracts globally aware and service-minded students to the University, who in turn help Peace Corps continue its mission by bringing back their cross-cultural skills and international field experience to share with local communities in the United States," noted the Chicago Regional Peace Corps Office press release.

Download the Peace Corps' top 10 rankings (PDF file) of both Coverdell Fellows and Masters International programs at universities and colleges at

For more information about WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development, contact Mauldin-Curtis at (309) 298-2706 or at, or visit the PCF program website at

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