The Peace Corps announced Monmouth University as No. 5 in its list of top Peace Corps Prep certificate-issuing partners on Sept. 30. This is the second year in a row the University has received such recognition.
Monmouth’s Peace Corps Prep Program (PCPP) is an established alliance between the University and Peace Corps in preparing interested students for certification and possible involvement with the volunteer agency post-graduation. For instance, the Class of 2021 boasted 26 graduates who received certificates along with their diplomas.
According to Frank Cipriani, Coordinator of the PCPP, the fact that one cannot receive this certificate anywhere else in the state but Monmouth only highlights the program’s uniqueness. “The reality that Monmouth can offer individual faculty attention is what really makes us different. We can steer students, one by one, through the certification process without having to resort to cookie cutter solutions,” explained Cipriani.
Monmouth’s PCPP prides itself on merging students’ academic background with exciting yet practical experiential opportunities. Cipriani noted that prior to the program’s founding, the University already had key elements in place that allowed for a smooth transition. “Our CD and GU courses are almost universally qualified as courses required for certification in Peace Corps Prep. Because of that, whether or not a student actually wanted to go into the Peace Corps, it would be very easy for any Monmouth student to earn a federal certificate in Peace Corps Prep, and it would be another great reason for students to understand the importance of these required courses.”
Nonetheless, as per Cipriani, one of the most differentiating characteristics about the PCPP is that it was established by a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer herself, Dean of the Honors School, Nancy Mezey, Ph.D.
Mezey attributed her time in the Peace Corps as the reason she ultimately became a college professor. “I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Mali, West Africa in the late 1980s, working on agricultural and gardening projects. Like many other PCVs, the Peace Corps was a life changing experience for me. Living in Mali, interacting with people from a very different culture from the one I left in the US, learning a completely different language, working on development projects— all of those opportunities led me on a very different path than I ever expected to travel,” stated Mezey.
Mezey said that Monmouth deserved the ranking it received for three main reasons. “The first is that because the creation of the PCPP was a collaborative effort, the program has continued to receive widespread university support.”
“The second being the PCPP’s leadership with Prof. Frank Cipriani at the helm. Every program needs a champion, and Prof. Cipriani has provided the creative, energetic, and enthusiastic leadership that the PCPP needs to excel,” said Mezey.
Hannah Craft, a senior biology major and participant in the PCPP, reflected Mezey’s viewpoint, commending the work of Cipriani. “He really enjoys creating a welcoming and hardworking community of Monmouth students that care about the future of the planet and communities in need.”
Lastly, the third reason for Monmouth’s national recognition is its students, Mezey said. “Many MU students eagerly seek out opportunities that encourage them to learn about different cultures and engage in interactive experiences. The PCPP offers students that opportunity, allowing them to move beyond their comfort zones without being overwhelmed or intimidated,” concluded Mezey.
Cipriani mirrored Mezey’s sentiments, saying, “The Peace Corps Prep at Monmouth isn’t about one department or one school, as it is at some other universities. It involves students, faculty and administrators from the entire campus, and I don’t think you can find that commitment at other Peace Corps Prep universities.”