Peace Corps Prep program at Elon to celebrate more than a decade of global impact on Thursday

The Feb. 29 celebration in Turner Theatre will include a panel discussion with returned Peace Corps volunteers and a viewing of the “A Towering Task” documentary about the global service organization.

Elon University will celebrate the renewal of its Peace Corps Prep program on Thursday, Feb. 29, with a panel discussion featuring returned Peace Corps volunteers and a viewing of “A Towering Task,” a documentary focused on the story of the global development assistance organization.

The university initially partnered with the Peace Corps in 2013 to help prepare interested students for careers in international development and at the time was just the sixth school in the nation to host a Peace Corps Prep program. Elon has been repeatedly ranked as both a top producer of Peace Corps volunteers and as a top-10 Peace Corps Prep partner university. Elon recently received word that it was approved for another five-year renewal of the partnership, which since 2013 has seen close to 80 students graduate with a certificate of program completion.

Chloe Hultman ’20 at a community garden at an elementary school in Langa, a Township in Cape Town. Hultman completed the Peace Corps Prep program in 2020.

“We’re excited to extend our partnership with the Peace Corps through this impactful program that helps students cultivate a foundation of skills they can use to make a difference on a global scale,” said Jennifer Eidum, associate professor of English and director of Elon’s Peace Corps Prep program.

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 appeals to students from a broad spectrum of disciplines and while some who complete the program go on to volunteer with the Peace Corps, others use the skills and insights they gained through the program for international careers. To receive the Peace Corps Prep certificate at Elon, students must complete three courses in their chosen sector and at least 50 hours of service in the sector.

Students are also required to demonstrate intercultural competence through a range of experiences during their time at Elon as well as to show professional and leadership development.

Bob Minton ’18 teaching in Ukraine.

The past five years have presented challenges to programs such as the Peace Corps after the global COVID-19 pandemic required unprecedented travel and public health restrictions. As COVID spread globally in spring 2020, all Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated across the globe, including Elon alumni who were serving at the time. Peace Corps volunteers were not able to serve in the field for more than a year, but have begun returning. Worldwide, 2,400 volunteers now serving in 58 countries.

The global pandemic caused a similar downturn in activity for Elon’s prep program, but interest is growing. This week, the program hosted a table at College Coffee on Tuesday, Feb. 27, that led up to the celebration in Turner Theatre on Thursday.

“I saw firsthand as a volunteer how the Peace Corps can make an impact, and we’re enthusiastic to help prepare new students to address global challenges big and small,” said Eidum, who served in Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

The celebratory evening will kick off at 6 p.m. with a panel discussion featuring returned Peace Corps volunteers from the local community. Barney Caton who served in Nepal (1989-91) as a math teacher, Beth Holmes, who served in Armenia (2017-18) as a community economic development volunteer, and Susan Sunay who served as a health volunteer in South Africa (2017-19) and is scheduled to serve again in Botswana this summer.

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The discussion will focus on their experiences both as Peace Corps Volunteers and how the Peace Corps had affected their career trajectories, with panelists offering insight into their experiences within the countries where they served and sharing the impact of serving as a Peace Corps volunteer.

The screening of “A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps” begins at 7 p.m. Narrated by Annette Bening, the documentary traces the challenges that came with creating the Peace Corps, its growing pains as it got started and the immeasurable impact that its volunteers have made in the more than 60 years since it launched.

Interested in getting involved?

  • If you are a faculty, staff, or alumni Returned Peace Corps volunteer and would like to be profiled online, or get involved in events, please contact Jennifer Eidum (
  • If you’re a student interested in the program, sign up for our interest list and join our events.
  • If you’re faculty/staff and would like us to share more about the program with your students, reach out to Jennifer Eidum ( for a personalized presentation.