Elon celebrates students completing Peace Corps Prep Program

Elon recently recognized five students who completed the Peace Corps Prep program, which includes training and experience in a specific work sector, foreign language proficiency, intercultural competency, and professional leadership and development skills.

Five Elon students completed the requirements for Elon’s Peace Corps Prep Program during the 2022-23 academic year, earning them a Peace Corps Prep certificate issued by Peace Corps Headquarters. Elon has consistently ranked as both a top producer of Peace Corps volunteers and as a top-ten Peace Corps Prep partner university.

Elon students recognized for completing the Peace Corps Prep Program in 2023: Ava de Bruin ’23, Julia Herman ’24, Kiara Hunter ’23, Stephanie Wagner ’23 and Kate Wirth ’23.

The university’s Peace Corps Prep Program prepares students for international service through mentoring, coursework and field experiences. Through the program, students develop four competencies — training and experience in a specific work sector, foreign language proficiency, intercultural competency, and professional leadership and development skills. The program includes all six Peace Corps service areas — Agriculture, Community Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, and Youth in Development.

The program is directed by Assistant Professor of English Jennifer Eidum, who previously served as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine.

Smiling student wearing sunglasses stands with a coastal town and water in the background
Julia Herman ’24 during her study abroad experience.

Julia Herman ‘24 reflects on her experience taking a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Theory and Practice course to fulfill the Peace Corps Prep program requirements.

“I have always had an interest in education and teaching, and this course allowed me to explore those interests,” Herman says. “I had the unique experience of being a teaching assistant in a course to adult Spanish speakers. This course provided me with a new perspective on learning.”

When asked about how she met the intercultural competency requirement needed to receive a Peace Corps Prep Program certificate, Herman says, “Periclean scholars, coupled with my semester abroad in Spain, has given me multiple opportunities to experience cultural immersion, interact with locals, better understand the way that others live and explore how I may be of service on a global scale.”

Following graduation, Herman hopes to gain a dual degree in MBA/MPH and pursue a career in healthcare administration on the global level.

Kiara Hunter ’23

Kiara Hunter ‘23 encourages future Peace Corps Prep students to embrace service opportunities.

“Engaging in service is mutually beneficial: you get to make a larger impact in your community, and learn more about yourself, your preferences, and your goals. It will shape you into a well-rounded person ready to engage with life after college,” Hunter says.

After graduation, Hunter will pursue her Master of Science in Population Health from the University College London.

Ava de Bruin ‘23 has served as the Peace Corps Prep Program’s student worker since 2018, and is among this year’s Peace Corps Prep Program certificate recipients. de Bruin cites her Peace Corps Prep field experience as one of the most impactful parts of the program.

Ava de Bruin ’23 during her study abroad experience.

“To get my Peace Corps Prep field hours, I worked as an Emergency Preparedness Intern for a public health consulting firm,” de Bruin says. “In this role, I fulfilled deliverables for federal grants and presented my findings to local health departments. This opportunity grew my confidence in a workplace setting and exposed me to a new side of public health work.”

When asked what advice she has for future Peace Corps Prep students, de Bruin reflects on misconceptions surrounding the Peace Corps Prep Program.

“The best advice I have for future Peace Corps Prep students is not to be intimidated by the program requirements,” de Bruin says. “It is likely you will meet many of the Peace Corps Prep requirements through the Elon Core Curriculum and through requirements for your major, especially if your studies overlap with the Peace Corps service sectors. Do not let fear of commitment hold you back from pursuing the certificate!”

de Bruin is preparing for a backpacking trip across Europe this summer before returning to school to pursue a Master in Public Health.

Stephanie Wagner ‘23 worked as a camp counselor to 120 high school students in Paris, France, which served as her Peace Corps related work experience.

“It was a lot of hard work being on call 24/7, but I had a blast with my colleagues and learned a lot about what it takes to run a study abroad program,” Wagner says.

Following her graduation, Wagner will be teaching English in Lille, France, as a part of the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF).

Kate Wirth ’23 during her volunteer work with Gateway Education Center in Greensboro, NC.

Kate Wirth ‘23 cites her time abroad as some of her most impactful. In Copenhagen, Denmark, she furthered her interest in sex education and explored cultural views of sex and sexuality through her coursework. In Sri Lanka, Wirth had the opportunity to explore LGBTQ+ stories and experiences, and used this research to develop guidelines on ethical civic engagement for future Elon Students.

After graduation, Wirth will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to pursue her Masters in Social Work.

When asked to share advice for future students, Wirth encourages students to go beyond their comfort zones.

“Think about the impact your life can have on communities locally and globally. And engage in all the amazing things Peace Corps Prep brings to campus,” Wirth says