Elon Law to offer special scholarships for Peace Corps volunteers

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program will provide financial aid and public interest residency-in-practice placements to as many as two returning Peace Corps volunteers who enroll at Elon Law each year beginning in 2018.

La'Teashia Sykes of the Peace Corps accepts a signed memorandum of understanding from Elon University Provost Steven House in which Elon Law officially joined the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program.
Elon Law and the Peace Corps have partnered to offer a special scholarship program to returned Peace Corps volunteers who want to serve their communities as lawyers.

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, announced Monday at a special signing ceremony, will offer two returned Peace Corps volunteers a scholarship in the amount of $31,500 toward Elon Law’s total program tuition of $110,000.

Fellows also will receive top placements in public interest law firms or organizations during their second year of study through Elon Law’s nationally recognized Residency-in-Practice Program. Such placements might include Legal Aid of North Carolina, the Family Justice Centers of Guilford and Alamance counties, or law school clinics that serve underserved populations.

Elon Law becomes only the fifth law school in the country – and the first law school in the South – with Coverdell Fellows.

“We want Elon students to change the world, and so we are excited when Elon students join the Peace Corps,” Steven House, Elon University’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said at the ceremony. “We are excited when students who have been in the Peace Corps and have made an impact on the world want to become part of the Elon community at the law school. We know that they will continue to make a difference.

“Today we start another program with the Peace Corps and look forward to this partnership. We look forward to taking a different approach to making a difference and changing lives the world over.”

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program is a graduate school program for returned Peace Corps volunteers. More than 100 schools across the country offer financial support to returned volunteers in programs that range from law to business to public health to education.

Fellows bring with them “a wealth of international experience in a variety of fields” and are described by the Peace Corps as “motivated, ready to learn, and eager to expand upon their Peace Corps experiences.” Fellows help create a community of those interested in the mission of the Peace Corps.

Experience in the Peace Corps and other post-graduate service programs often indicates a sophistication and maturity that leads to law school success, said Alan Woodlief, Elon Law’s senior associate dean for admissions, administration and finance.

From left: Chris Cardona (Peace Corps staff member), Betsy Jenson (Elon Law staff member and returned Peace Corps volunteer), Jennifer Zinchuk (assistant professor of English and returned Peace Corps volunteer), La'Teashia Sykes (Peace Corps staff member), Steve Moore (director of Elon University's Peace Corps Prep Program and returned volunteer), Alan Woodlief (senior associate dean at Elon Law) and Elon University Provost Steven House.
“We would be thrilled to enroll two Coverdell Fellows each year, as students with experiences like this usually excel academically and are leaders in our student body,” Woodlief said. “Through their Peace Corps service, these students have already exhibited engagement and a commitment to service, attributes the law school looks for in its students, and ones well suited for seizing upon the varied opportunities for experiential learning and public service provided by the law school’s clinics, residencies and externships.”

In hosting Coverdell Fellows, Elon Law builds upon a longstanding relationship with the Peace Corps. In 2013, Elon leaders signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the university as one of the first five higher educational institutions to adopt the Peace Corps Prep Program. The Peace Corps Prep Program helps a student sharpen their academic ability, leadership and cultural competency for a competitive edge in applying to the Peace Corps and eventually greater success while serving in their Peace Corps host countries.

Elon University and American University are currently the only two private universities in the United States to offer both a Peace Corps Prep Program and Coverdell Fellowships.

“It is very exciting to complement our undergraduate Peace Corps Prep Program with the new Coverdell Fellowships,” said Steve Moore, a faculty member and founding director of the Peace Corps Prep Program on Elon’s main campus. “It really shows Elon’s continued tangible commitment to its values of global citizenship and service.  

“The Coverdell Fellowships at Elon provide not only monetarily support for return Peace Corps volunteers but institutionally increases our understanding of global issues and perspectives and infuses into our classrooms the incredible creativity, tenacity, patience, hard work and service ethic that characterize volunteers.”

Thirteen Elon University alumni are currently volunteering in the Peace Corps.

About Elon Law

Established in 2006, Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the preeminent school for engaged and experiential learning in law. With a focus on “learning by doing,” it integrates traditional classroom instruction with course-connected, full-time residencies-in-practice in a logically sequenced program of transformational professional preparation.

Elon Law’s groundbreaking approach is accomplished in 2.5 years, which provides distinctive value by lowering tuition and permitting graduates early entry into their legal careers. Elon Law also houses the North Carolina Business Court, making it one of only a few law schools in the United States to house a working courtroom. Its advisory board is chaired by David Gergen, a former adviser to four U.S. presidents, and includes three former chief justices of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.