Thanks to the service-oriented nature of the University of Arizona community, the institution has for years been one of the nation's top-raking producers of Peace Corps volunteers.
For Peace Corps volunteers returning to the U.S. states, the Coverdell Fellows program provides them with scholarships, academic credit and other support toward a graduate degree. In addition to their studies, fellows are able to complete internships in underserved communities in the U.S.
"The University of Arizona has established an impressive record of top rankings in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program,” Janet Allen, the Peace Corps West Coast regional manager, said in a prepared release.
Today, 52 returned Peace Corps volunteers are enrolled in the UA's 12-year-old Coverdell Fellows program. Since 2001, 159 UA students have completed the program.
"I had the honor of meeting this year's Fellows cadre during the UA's Peace Corps Week," Allen also noted. "They bring an impressive wealth of Peace Corps experience to their graduate work and a strong service ethic to the UA and the greater Tucson community – it's a win for everyone."
Other institutions that made the top producing list for the Coverdell Fellows programs include the University of Denver, Johns Hopkins University and Brandeis University.
"Every year, hundreds of Peace Corps volunteers make a difference by combining meaningful service with graduate studies through Peace Corps' Master's International and Coverdell Fellows programs," Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said in a statement.
"After completing Peace Corps service, volunteers return to the United States as global citizens, with leadership, cross-cultural understanding and language and technical skills that position them for success in today's global job market," Hessler-Radelet also noted.
Since 1961, a total of 1,147 UA alumni have served in the Peace Corps, with 41 currently serving overseas.
Holly Bryant, who served as a community health volunteer before becoming a fellow at the UA, said her classroom-based education was greatly reinforced through her service work.
"This allowed me to test the limits of my comfort zones and my knowledge as it is applied in the real world," said Bryant, a student in the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
"Flexibility is the key, being able to move with the flow of what's happening in the moment," said Bryant, who served in Uganda from 2008 to 2010. "These traits were integral during my Peace Corps service."