Duke University ranked ninth in the nation on the Peace Corps’ annual list of top-enrolling Paul D. Coverdell Fellows institutions. Currently 21 fellows are studying in the graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance for tuition and fees to returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) through universities and institutions.
In 2004, Duke became the first Coverdell Fellows partner in North Carolina with the signing of an MOU between the U.S. Peace Corps, Duke Center for International Development (DCID) and the Sanford School of Public Policy. The Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) program at DCID and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) at Sanford both provide generous tuition scholarships to admitted Coverdell Fellows. Since 2004, the Coverdell Fellows program has expanded to include The Fuqua School of Business and Duke Global Health Institute.
“We are pleased that Duke was acknowledged for supporting graduate students through the prestigious Coverdell Fellows Program,” said Eddy Malesky, DCID director. “This national recognition highlights Duke’s ongoing commitment to attracting and admitting returning volunteers, who are distinguished by their passion in furthering their education in order to better serve local and global communities. We remain committed to working with the Peace Corps to provide generous opportunities for future leaders studying at Duke.” In February 2021, Duke renewed its partnership with the Peace Corps that established the Coverdell Fellows program.
“We are grateful to partner with these universities to support our returned volunteers as they work toward their academic goals and continue their commitment to lifelong service,” Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn said. “A graduate degree, in combination with the perspective and skills gained through Peace Corps service, enables returned volunteers to become and inspire our next generation of global leaders.”
First established in 1985 at Teachers College at Columbia University, the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program has grown to include more than 120 higher education partners in 38 states and the District of Columbia. It now includes more than 200 programs that offer returned volunteers the opportunity to pursue over 300 graduate and post-graduate degrees.
All Fellows complete internships in underserved communities in the United States, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as volunteers abroad. Additionally, returned volunteers who enroll in universities upon completion of service may potentially have their noncompetitive eligibility status for federal job applications extended up to three years, at a hiring agency’s discretion.
Sanford Coverdell Fellows must perform a community service internship with a local high need area or community. Fellows have impacted the local Durham community by working with such organizations such as Advance Access and Delivery, NC Center on Actual Innocence, Go Global NC, Community Schools of Durham, Ellerbe Creek Watershed, World Relief, Self-Help Credit Union, Refugee Community Partnerships and Democracy Now. Upon graduation, Coverdell Fellows go on to make valuable contributions to local, national and international policy through work with organizations such as local and state government, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FHI 360, Refugees International, RTI International and the World Bank as well as with private sector organizations such as Nike, NSM Insurance and Uber.
Housed in the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) in the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Master of International Development Program (MIDP) is a rigorous interdisciplinary program for mid-career and senior-level professionals who plan to dedicate their careers to policy-making and public service in and for developing, post-conflict and transition countries. For more information or to apply, visit the MIDP website.
By April L. Raphiou, DCID Communications Director