Doctor’s passion for public health developed while serving in Peace Corps


Andrew Dykens has committed his life to improving health care in communities across the world. He is an assistant professor of family medicine and the director of the Global Community Health Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago Center for Global Health. But his career began as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania.

“The amount that I learned during my Peace Corps experience has had more impact than any of my other experiences,” said Dykens, who served as a health and water sanitation volunteer from 1997-99.

His freshman calculus professor at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., talked about her experiences as a volunteer, and the idea of joining the Peace Corps stayed with Dykens as a pre-medical student until he graduated in 1997. He thought it would be a good opportunity to speak a new language and see other parts of the world. Continue reading

Meet Your Peace Corps Midwest Recruiter: Kendrall Masten

Name: Kendrall Masten
Country of Service: Zambia 2005-2007
Assignment: Rural Aquaculture Promotion
Paul D. Coverdell Fellow: Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University Recruitment Territory: Central Indiana Continue reading

Michigan resident promoted gender equality as a Peace Corps volunteer

Inspired by the widespread success of Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), Peace Corps volunteers in Burkina Faso have been organizing Camp G2LOW (Girls and Guys Leading Our World) to teach both girls and boys about gender equality. At the most recent Camp G2LOW, more than 60 secondary school students came together for two weeks from four different cities across Burkina Faso.

“Our goal through the camps is to teach male youth the value of working with women as equals,” said recently returned Peace Corps volunteer Sara Goodman, of Huntington Woods, Mich., who helped organize the past two G2LOW camps.

During the camps, students learn about healthy relationships and gender attitudes and discuss their roles and responsibilities. The most recent camp included educational sessions on proper hygiene habits, healthy lifestyle practices, critical thinking and decision-making, ending domestic violence, and the importance of working together to accomplish goals. The camp culminated with educational skits, campfire activities, and a cultural night with dancing to American and Burkinabe music. Continue reading

Returned Peace Corps volunteer paves path to career in environmental policy with Coverdell Fellows program

Ciciretti.Rebecca_ElSalvador2Rebecca Ciciretti is one of more than 4,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers who have been able to continue their education through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program. The Fellows program offers graduate school financial assistance and internships in undeserved American communities to returned volunteers, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they acquired as volunteers.

Ciciretti, a Fellow at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, is working toward a master’s in public affairs with a concentration on environmental policy and natural resource management, and a master’s of science in environmental science, focusing on environmental chemistry, toxicology, and risk assessment. She served as an environmental education Peace Corps volunteer from 2010-12 in El Salvador after graduating from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and sociology. Below, she answers a few questions about her Peace Corps service and experiences in the Fellows program.

Continue reading

Meet Your Peace Corps Midwest Recruiter: Brett Heimann

Name: Brett Heimann
Country of Service: Togo, 2009-11
Assignment: Girls’ Education & Empowerment volunteer
Recruitment Territory: Wisconsin Continue reading

Meet Your Peace Corps Midwest Recruiter: Meghan Costello

Name: Meghan Costello
Country of Service: Rwanda, 2010-12
Assignment: English Education
Recruitment Territory: Michigan and Northern Indiana Continue reading

Professor joins Peace Corps during sabbatical “to do something bigger”


Chris Martin and his wife Tami served as Peace Corps volunteers in Ghana, from 2008-10.

Chris Martin and his wife Tammi served as Peace Corps volunteers in Ghana, from 2008-10.

One night at dinner, over a bottle of wine, shortly after Chris Martin had earned tenure as an associate professor in the Art and Visual Culture Department at Iowa State University, his wife, Tammi, suggested they join the Peace Corps. So, he took a sabbatical and the couple, of Ames, Iowa, went to Ghana to teach from 2008-10.

“I wanted to do something bigger,” said Chris, who earned bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Iowa State University in 1991 and a master’s in fine arts from Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. “This was it.”

In Ghana, Tammi, 47, taught computer literacy while Chris, 47, instructed visual arts at a high school, but his true joy in the experience came from the relationships he fostered as well as secondary projects. Continue reading