Michigan Public Health Partners with Peace Corps to Support Returning Volunteers Interested in Nutritional Sciences

Betsy Ford with some students she worked with in the Peace Corps

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has partnered with the Peace Corps to launch a Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program within the Department of Nutritional Sciences. The program offers discounted tuition for returned Peace Corps volunteers who are pursuing a Master of Public Health degree in Nutritional Sciences.

"We have been seeing an increasing number of returned Peace Corps volunteers attending our prospective and admitted student day events, and this is a natural fit for us," says Susan Aaronson, lecturer and didactic program director in Nutritional Sciences. "Compassion, innovation, inclusion, impact—the same values that are central to our school are the principles that drive young people to serve in the Peace Corps."

The department plans to accept one Coverdell Fellow each year, and fellows will receive a 50 percent tuition award per year, which would apply to in-state or out-of-state tuition.

All fellows are required to complete an internship in an underserved community in the US, allowing them to bring home and expand on the skills they learned as Peace Corps volunteers.

"Compassion, innovation, inclusion, impact—the same values that are central to our school are the principles that drive young people to serve in the Peace Corps."

-Susan Aaronson

The internship requirement works within the department's existing structure and partnerships, Aaronson says. All MPH students are required to complete an internship, and the department has established partnerships with organizations like Food Gatherers and Growing Hope, which align with the purpose of Coverdell Fellows internship.

In addition to the School of Public Health, several other University of Michigan schools and colleges offer Coverdell Fellowships, including the Ford School of Public Policy, the School for Environment and Sustainability, the School of Information, the School of Social Work, and the Stamps School of Art and Design.

"We would like to be seen as pioneers," Aaronson says. "There are limited Nutritional Sciences programs that are offering the Coverdell Fellowship. We see value in bringing skills learned in the Peace Corps back to the United States and helping graduate students apply those skills in the local community through summer internships and future employment."

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