New CU-Boulder program brings grad school, Peace Corps togetherBy Brittany Anas Camera Staff Writer

September 22, 2011

CU-Boulder Peace Corps Recruiting Office

Posted: 09/23/2011 08:18:58 PM MDT

The University of Colorado -- which reigns as the top feeder school for the Peace Corps -- is offering a new program allowing students to pursue graduate school and serve in the Peace Corps simultaneously.

This semester, CU and the Peace Corps have begun a master's international program that lets students combine graduate study in four programs with a joint appointment for service in the Peace Corps. The international programs are available to students earning a master's in business administration as well as master's degrees in education, environmental studies or geography.

Peter Simons, director of the Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement at CU, said the Boulder campus is joining about 90 other schools across the country that offer similar programs.

Simons said students enrolled in the international program will do one year of graduate work, deploy for two years of Peace Corps service and return to CU to complete the second year required for their master's degrees.

CU is ranked No. 1 in the country for graduates serving as Peace Corps volunteers in 2011, with 117 alumni serving across the globe.

CU was ranked No. 2 in 2009 and 2010, and it ranks No. 5 over time, with 2,369 alumni who have served in the Peace Corps since it was established in 1961. Each year since 2004, CU has ranked in the top three schools in the nation for Peace Corps volunteers.

The new master's program will help CU keep its Peace Corps powerhouse reputation in coming years, officials say.

"It gives us a leg up in helping us maintain that No. 1 status," Simons said.

The master's degree tracks available through the international program are fitting, he said. For example, an MBA student who studies how to start and administer a business would be able to work with those in developing countries to set up sustainable businesses.

CU graduate Brian Lewandowski said the new program is something he would have considered when he was finished with his undergraduate work and knew he wanted to join the Peace Corps and pursue an advanced degree.

Lewandowski and his wife, Amber, were newlyweds in 2003 when they joined the Peace Corps, agreeing it would be the ideal time because they didn't have a mortgage or children. They were placed in St. Vincent, a Caribbean island.

Lewandowski helped locals write business plans, led entry-level business seminars, wrote grants and launched a computer-skills course taught by locals.

He invented practical ways to teach business basics, such as a poultry project that exposed sixth-graders to math, science and commerce. He helped students build a coop at their school, raise chickens and sell them.

When he returned from his service, he enrolled as an MBA student at CU's Leeds School of Business. Now, he's a research analyst in the Business Research Division at the Leeds School.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.

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