Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Peace Corps students tell their stories to UAF chancellor

At the request of UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers, students affiliated with the Peace Corps gathered today at the Rasmuson Library to share their experiences.

"Let's raise the profile of this," Rogers said.

UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers met with students affiliated with the Peace Corps Oct. 23.
After meeting the students and hearing where they served or will serve in the Peace Corps, Rogers said, "You have quite a variety of experiences, expertise and countries. All of you have done creative things. How do we make people more aware of this program?"

Students suggested a Peace Corps presence at cultural events, placing posters showcasing Peace Corps students around campus, round table presentations and a Summer Sessions lecture series, They suggested a better presence of Peace Corps programs on the UAF website.

Rogers came up with the idea of creating a Google map on the UAF website showing the countries where students and faculty have served, are serving or will serve in the Peace Corps.

Tony Gasbarro, a coordinator for the Master's International and Paul G. Coverdell Fellows program, asked the chancellor if students could appear before the Board of Regents to reinforce university funding for the programs.

In the Master's International Program, students earn a master's degree while incorporating their Peace Corps service into graduate studies. The Coverdell Fellows program is for returned Peace Corps volunteers. SNRAS and the College of Rural and Community Development are the two entities at UAF that host the Peace Corps programs.

Graduate student Willie Wilkins, who had applied for the Coverdell fellowship but didn't get it, said, "I contacted Tony Gasbarro and Susan Todd. They were fantastic," he said. "They caused me to come here even though I didn't get the Coverdell. I'm really glad I'm here."

Tricia Kent, an MIP student, said she loves the sense of community among the Peace Corps students at UAF.

The chancellor agreed that in a community of scholars everyone does better. "I didn't realize it had grown to this level," he said.

Rogers said the Peace Corps programs are a natural fit for UAF. "Tony (Gasbarro) talked me into it," he said. "I had seen Tony's presentations over the years. When he tells his stories people get excited. The opportunities the Peace Corps create are really amazing."

He likes to encourage all students to study abroad at some point. "Having international, cross-cultural experiences is part of what it takes to be successful," he said.

Associate Professor Susan Todd, the SNRAS faculty advisor for Peace Corps programs, said she already has 10 applications for Master's International and the Coverdell Fellow for next year. "I hear from other faculty that these students are highly motivated, adventurous and willing to participate," she said.

Front row, left to right, Sarah Liben, Teri Anderson, Celia Jackson, Susan Todd, Ryan Wilson, Tony Gasbarro, Eric Schacht. Back row, left to right, Hillary Presecan, Lauren Lynch, Christin Anderson, Chancellor Brian Rogers, Willie Wilkins, Tricia Kent, Steven Seefeldt.

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