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Peace Corps visits WMU, recognizes graduate program

Oct. 3, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Peace Corps representatives will visit Kalamazoo this week to congratulate Western Michigan University on the success of its Master's International program. The campus community is invited to attend the celebration Thursday, Oct. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. in 3301 Friedmann Hall.

At the event, Dr. Paul Clements, WMU associate professor of political science and director of the Master of Development Administration program, will be formally recognized and thanked for his service to the organization. Clements, who served as a Peace Corp volunteer in the Republic of the Gambia from 1985 to 1987, is the WMU Master's International program coordinator. The evening also will include an overview of Peace Corps programs, application and benefits, and testimonials from volunteers who've recently returned from overseas service.

The Master's International program, which allows students to combine Peace Corps service with graduate studies for credit, is only offered at a handful of universities. When WMU's program -- the Master of Development Administration-Peace Corps Option -- began in 2001, it was the first of its kind in Michigan and one of only three of its type in the nation. The University's Peace Corps Option enhances students' education by giving them two years of overseas work experience improving life in developing countries.

"Master's International allows graduates to take their skills outside the classroom and make a real difference in the lives of people who need their help," says Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter. "They return well-equipped with both real world experience, and an advanced academic degree."

Students in WMU's program complete course work in such areas as development administration, economic development strategies and personnel management, before being assigned to service with the Peace Corps for 27 months. Classes use the case study approach and students work on management strategies in health care, small business support, privatization, telecommunications and agriculture. Prospective students apply for entrance into the Peace Corps Master's International program and WMU's MDA program concurrently.

WMU has about eight Master's International graduate students currently serving overseas, with several other students preparing to depart for service in the coming year. Overall, the University has nearly 30 alumni currently serving in Peace Corps.

Since 1961, when President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship, more than 187,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the 139 countries where volunteers have served. Returned Peace Corps volunteers' commitment to service often continues back home in their communities and around the globe.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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