Pictured left to right at the "Girl Rising" event: Kapil Dandekar, PhD, a professor in the College of Engineering; Chief Operating Officer for the Peace Corps Erin Gibbs; College of Engineering's Interim Dean Giuseppe Palmese; panelist Marie Chevrier, PhD; Sheila Crowley, Peace Corps CEO; College of Engineering Director of Graduate Programs Sherry Levin; Patrick McGettigan, a Peace Corps regional recruiter; and Mira Olson, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Engineering.
Drexel University and the Peace Corps signed a partnership agreement to establish the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program at the College of Engineering, offering discounted tuition for returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) pursuing their master’s degrees. Drexel is the only engineering school in the Northeast to partner with the Peace Corps for this program.
As Coverdell Fellows in the College of Engineering, RPCVs can receive a 25 percent discount in their tuition. Individual programs in the college can offer different discounts, with the M.S. in Peace Engineering — the first program of its kind dedicated to preventing and reducing violent conflict through education and research — offering a 50 percent discount.
Additionally, Coverdell Fellows must complete an internship (or, in Drexel’s case, a co-op) in which they work with an underserved community.
“We’re planning on using existing resources like the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships and other community partners to help set up opportunities for students,” said Sherry Levin, director of graduate programs at the College of Engineering.
Levin played a large role in connecting the College of Engineering and the Peace Corps. It all started when she met Patrick McGettigan, a regional recruiter from the organization, at one of the career fairs hosted by the Steinbright Career Development Center last year. She asked if there would be any way for Drexel to work with the Peace Corps and was subsequently told about the Coverdell Fellows Program.
“When I saw the requirements, which were the discounted tuition and the opportunity for students to fulfill a community internship requirement, I knew the College of Engineering could accommodate both of those,” she said. “I thought, This is a no brainer! Let’s do it!”
Levin was the lead author on the proposal agreement, which was formally signed over the summer. To celebrate the signing, the College of Engineering recently hosted the Peace Corps on campus for a screening of “Girl Rising,” which tells the story of nine girls living in the developing world and highlights the power of education and empowerment. The screening was discussed in a panel discussion featuring Drexel professors and Peace Corps representatives that was moderated by Peace Corps CEO Sheila Crowley, a Drexel alumna who earned her MS in Library and Information Science in 1993 and volunteered in Ukraine from 2001–03.
The first class of Coverdell Fellows at the College of Engineering will start next fall. They will join the past and present Coverdell Fellows at the Kline School of Law, which started its own Coverdell Fellows agreement with the Peace Corps in 2014. Currently, there are two Coverdell Fellows who are students in the law school, which offers a 75 percent tuition discount rate to RPCVs admitted as Coverdell Fellows.
The University’s relationship with the Peace Corps goes back decades. Since the organization began in 1961, 171 Dragons have served with the Peace Corps. Currently, there are two alums serving in Benin and Malawi.