News | May 08, 2019

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20 complete FGCU’s 1st Peace Corps Prep Program

Students on path to service develop leadership skills, engage with community

Thanks to a new program offered at FGCU, senior Hanna Nussair, 20, will someday be able to fulfill her dream of serving in the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps Prep Program, which launched in January after accepting student applications last fall, aims to prepare undergraduates to serve in the field of international development and eventual Peace Corps enlistment.

Nussair was part of a group of more than 20 students who participated in the university’s inaugural program, which taught them the leadership skills and community awareness that are required to serve in the international program founded by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s.

“It’s the best way to get international experience and travel abroad,” said Nussair, whose dream is to someday work in the foreign service.

The program incorporates classwork, service learning, field projects and leadership development, as well as promoting foreign language skills and multicultural understanding.

Photo shows FGCU student graduating
College of Arts & Sciences Dean Robert Gregerson congratulates Hanna Nussair at commencement.

Although Nussair has delayed her active participation in the agency because of another opportunity, she feels FGCU’s program has well prepared her for when she does decide to enter the Peace Corps, and since she has already been accepted, she feels the reapplication process will be easier.

The first-generation American, who attended high school in Sarasota, graduated this spring with a degree in communications. After spending 10 months in Spain teaching English, she will probably pursue a graduate degree at American University in Washington, D.C., most likely in the field of international relations, she said.

Nussair said her lofty goals would be tougher to accomplish without the help of the Peace Corps Prep Program. She credits the program with helping her develop leadership and communication skills, plus gain experience working on bigger issues in the international sphere. She also said she is extremely grateful for the help of Charlotte Bingham, coordinator in the International Services Office, for her role in nurturing the program and the students involved.

“This is the first group that has completed the program,” Nussair said proudly of the students who earned their certificates, which actually come from the Peace Corps organization and serve as kind of a “gold stamp” for those who eventually apply for the corps. Prep Program participation includes class requirements that often match what the students are already studying in their majors, and the program leaders try to accommodate the students’ individual academic program of study.

Nussair would eventually like to travel to Morocco to work in promoting women’s education and empowerment. Gender disparities in educational opportunities in some countries are a big concern for her. She has been involved in the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking while at FGCU and has a deep interest in becoming “100 percent immersed in the community and helping people help themselves.”

FGCU’s program is expected to benefit students beyond service in the Peace Corps, as today’s global marketplace increasingly demands international experience in multiple areas. In Florida, only six other postsecondary preparatory programs are authorized, according to the Peace Corps, making FGCU a trendsetter in grooming students for work in international relations.