Coverdell Fellows Program

UMass Boston is proud to be a partner university of the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, run by the U.S. Peace Corps. Our Coverdell Fellows are enrolled in our MA program here at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development (SGISD).

Benefits for returned volunteers

The Coverdell Program offers incentives for returned Peace Corps volunteers to attend graduate schools across the United States. SGISD’s Coverdell Fellows receive financial aid including in-state tuition for out-of-state students, coverage of their application fee, and 6 academic credits for their Peace Corps service.

Volunteers who have completed at least 12 months of service with Peace Corps Response or through the Global Health Service Partnership may also apply to the Coverdell Program. The 12 months can be consecutive or through a combination of tours.

Serving and sharing your story

All SGISD Coverdell Fellows participate in internships in underserved communities in the greater Boston area. They use the intercultural knowledge and practical skills gained during their term of service to engage with and empower members of excluded communities.

Fellows also share what they learned about their country of service through formal presentations and informal conversations at UMass Boston, their internship site, and beyond. This is part of the Third Goal of Peace Corps: to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Affiliated program

MA in Global Inclusion and Social Development

How to apply

Coverdell applicants should apply via the regular SGISD application process, submitting all required materials to the UMass Boston Office of Graduate Admissions. Please indicate on your application that you are a returned Peace Corps volunteer and wish to be considered for a Coverdell Fellowship. You may also describe your Peace Corps service and interest in the fellowship in your personal statement.

Finally, please email a copy of your official Description of Service from the Peace Corps to the Coverdell Fellows coordinator, Kaitlyn Siner-Cappas. You may do this at any time up until the application deadline for the program to which you're applying.

Please also email Kaitlyn or call her at 617.287.3070 for specific directions on getting your application fee covered.

Coverdell Fellows: MA in Global Inclusion and Social Development

The mission of the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development (SGISD) is:

Empowering communities locally, nationally, and internationally to advance wellness, educational access, economic participation, and social opportunities for all their citizens by developing leaders, building knowledge, and demonstrating real-world innovations that embrace inclusion.

As such, we are closely aligned with the Peace Corps mission and philosophy of cross-cultural collaboration and local-level empowerment. We believe that inclusive policies and practices for marginalized groups not only fulfill a social justice objective, but also build peace within and between nations.

SGISD faculty and students are involved with research and training in Peace Corps host nations including Bangladesh, China, Jordan, Nepal, the Pacific Islands, South Africa, and Tanzania.

What kind of students are we looking for?

Successful students in our programs have demonstrated the following:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Multicultural awareness
  • Empathy for and understanding of marginalized populations
  • Understanding of ethical issues
  • Commitment to social justice

Program details

Learn about our core courses and concentrations here. 

Download a flyer about the Coverdell Fellowship and the MA in global inclusion and social development.

What do students do with a degree in global inclusion and social development?

The combination of their previous volunteer experience, their academic training, and internship opportunities make Coverdell Fellows well qualified to find employment quickly after the completion of their program. Here are examples of career paths for GISD MA graduates:

  • Directing an urban food-justice nonprofit
  • Consulting with global and regional nonprofits to increase their diversity and program reach
  • Managing outreach and community relations for a nonprofit or institute
  • Assisting refugees to integrate into a new community
  • Running local advocacy campaigns for inclusive policies

Credits

36 credits are required for the GISD master’s, and Coverdell Fellows may apply 6 credits toward their concentration for their Peace Corps service. Fellows will need to create an individualized plan of study concentration that includes this experience as independent study. They will also need to create an academic component, such as a research paper, that ties their Peace Corps service experience in with their concentration.

How long does the program take?

A full-time student will complete the MA degree in 3 semesters (1.5 years). Part-time and low-residency options are also available.

Internship

Each Coverdell Fellow will work with a grassroots community-based organization (CBO) on a specific and mutually agreed-upon project. The Fellow’s advisor will work with Fellows and CBOs to identify appropriate internships, and to monitor and support the success of the placement. Fellows may also get assistance in locating an internship from UMass Boston Career Services, the Office of Community Partnerships, and the Office of Global Programs.

Through our research and training institute, the Institute for Community Inclusion, we have developed longstanding partnerships with many grassroots CBOs in Boston. Examples of programs to which trainees may affiliate are:

Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center

Casa Esperanza

Eritrean Community Center Boston

Haitian-American Public Health Initiatives

Urban PRIDE

Final project

All GISD students complete a final project before applying for graduation. Each student works with an advisor to create a final project that shows a general mastery and command for studies in global inclusion, and highlights specific interests, experiences, and goals for post-graduate endeavors.

Support and advising

UMass Boston offers many resources to support students. Coverdell Fellows will have access to all of these, including the Graduate Writing Center, Financial Aid Services, and University Health Services.

The Coverdell Fellows coordinator is available via email and phone to answer questions and to schedule in-person meetings with Fellows.

During their orientation, Coverdell Fellows will be assigned a faculty advisor who will meet with them regularly and assist them with the requirements of their academic program. The student and advisor will develop a plan of study so that students can plan their course work and internship requirements well in advance.

All students in the GISD MA program receive copies of the GISD Master's Degree Student Handbook

Online and on-campus options

We offer both online and on-campus study options. Our students often cite our school’s flexibility, and the chance to customize a program of study, as major incentives for enrolling in our programs.

Program costs

We recommend reviewing the Financial Aid website.

Cost of living in Boston

The UMass Boston Housing site has information about managing housing costs in Boston. Cost of living can vary greatly depending upon what area of Boston a student lives in and whether or not he or she lives with roommates.

Note that tuition at other Boston-area schools, such as Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tufts University, is approximately three times as much as UMass Boston’s.

Some SGISD courses are offered online, so students may choose to spend part of their time in the program living outside of Boston. Depending upon the student’s home city and living situation, this may result in a lower cost of living than full-time residency in Boston for the duration of their program.

We are happy to discuss various financial scenarios and how they may play out for a Coverdell Fellow who chooses to spend part of their time studying remotely.

How we help pay for your degree

  • In-state tuition rates will be provided to all Fellows regardless of their state of residency.
  • Students receive 6 credits for their Peace Corps service.
  • We cover the UMass Boston application fee for all Coverdell applicants.

Coverdell Fellows and the Third Goal of Peace Corps

In addition to recruiting Coverdell Fellows, SGISD faculty and staff work with Peace Corps through a variety of activities. UMass Boston maintains relationships with recruiters in the Boston office of the Peace Corps, and Coverdell Fellows are available to talk to applicants about becoming Peace Corps Volunteers.

How to apply

Coverdell Fellows apply through the usual process, outlined on our Apply page, and submit all materials through the UMass Boston Office of Graduate Admissions. Please indicate on your application that you are a returned Peace Corps volunteer and wish to be considered for a Coverdell Fellowship. You may also describe your Peace Corps service and interest in the fellowship in your personal statement.

Finally, please submit a copy of your official Description of Service from the Peace Corps to the Coverdell Fellows coordinator, Kaitlyn Siner-Cappas, at sgisd@umb.edu. You may do this at any time up until the application deadline for the MA program (for fall--April 1; for spring--Nov. 1).

Kaitlyn is available to answer your questions about the fellowship and how it may fit in with your Peace Corps service and professional goals. She can also explain the process for getting your application fee covered.

Meet Our Coverdell Fellows

Melissa Clouser | Ashley Romero

Melissa Clouser

When and where did you serve in the Peace Corps?
I served in the Philippines from 2012-2014. I lived in a rural town in the province of Camarines Sur called Magarao.

What was your main job as a Peace Corps Volunteer?
My main job was teaching English at a local elementary school. I paired up with a local teacher in grade 5 and we co-taught our lessons. I paired up with other teachers, as well, to implement different school-based projects like remedial reading programs, pen pal exchanges with American and Ukrainian students, teacher trainings, and building a library.
 
What was your favorite thing about the community where you lived during your service?
My favorite part was my neighbors who I became really close with and the kids who would always visit and play games, read, and hang out on my porch!
 
What was something you learned or something that surprised you?
The pace of life and work in Magarao was different from what I was used to in America. I learned how to put my own American-influenced habits and expectations aside and work within the local culture. It was uncomfortable at times but I now realize how important it is to try to look at life through someone else's eyes.
 
What was the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was the weather! The heat was miserable at times and if the electricity went out, as it often did, there would be no electric fan to cool it down even slightly.
 
What was your biggest reward?
My biggest reward was the excitement the kids had for our library project. When it was finished, all the kids would sprint to the doorway so they could spend their recess time reading!
 
What’s a funny or heart-warming memory?
I adopted a street dog puppy, Bernardino, shortly after I got to site and he really helped local kids warm up to me. Some of my favorite memories were going to the church yard with my neighbor kids and Bernardino to play and run around together. We played local games and I introduced games like Ultimate Frisbee and freeze tag.
 
If you could go back in time and live your life again, would you still do Peace Corps? Why or why not? If not, what would you do instead?
I would definitely still do Peace Corps again. In fact, I can even see myself serving again in the future! My Peace Corps service gave me the opportunity to really immerse myself into another culture and experience a different way of life. It helped me realize that even though there are many differences between Filipino and American culture, neither is better or worse than the other. My experience in the Philippines helped me step outside my ethnocentric view of the world and practice a lot of cultural humility and self-reflection to learn about myself and others. I think everyone should serve in the Peace Corps!

Ashley Romero

When and where did you serve in the Peace Corps?
2009-2011, Panama

What was your main job as a Peace Corps Volunteer?
My main job was as a sustainable agricultural systems volunteer. I worked with the community to facilitate projects to increase food security and maintain healthy farmlands. We built rice and fish tanks, employed organic agricultural methods, and hosted technical training workshops. I also worked with the community to create side projects in reforestation, building wood-conserving stoves, home and school gardens, poultry production, and teaching English in the elementary school.

What was your favorite thing about the community where you lived during your service?
I enjoyed that my site was small, made up of about 150 people, so I had the chance to get to know everyone and really felt part of the community, and met so many fantastic people. It was also near the mountains which made for beautiful views and lots of hiking which I also loved.

What was something you learned or something that surprised you?
The cultural differences were continual learning experiences. For example, "alone time" is not really part of the culture in Panama, so living in a house separate from my initial host family was different for them. In the community, families do everything together. Neighbors would ask me if I was scared or felt lonely living alone. The kids would visit me often to hang out. They also warned me about the "brujas" or the witches who come out at night, a common mythological figure in Latin America. Family and doing everything together is huge in Panama which was fun, but I still liked my occasional quiet down time reading and having coffee.

What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was being far from family and friends back home, and also the physical demands of living without some of the comforts we have in the U.S. (though you learn to adapt quickly!).

What was your biggest reward?
The biggest reward was being immersed in a completely new culture. I made great friends with so many people and had a lot of fun in my community. We worked together, went to church together, washed our clothes together, complained about the dry/rainy season together, cooked together, danced together, drank countless cups of sugary coffee together. It was like a huge extended family which I loved feeling a part of.

What’s a funny or heart-warming memory?
After working on the farm, it is common to have lunch together at the farm owner's home. Soup and rice is a popular dish, which is what we had that day. I was eating and enjoying it thinking, "Mm, this tastes like beef. But wait, the bones are so small. That can't be a cow." So I asked the cook, "What kind of meat is this?" She replied, matter-of-factly, "Gato del monte," and pointed to the small pelt of the animal pinned to the ground and drying in the sun. It was wild cat, hunted earlier in the morning. I kept eating thinking, "Hm, wild cat soup, guess there's a first time for everything." 

If you could go back in time and live your life again, would you still do Peace Corps? Why or why not? If not, what would you do instead?
Absolutely, I would do Peace Corps again. I learned so much from the people with whom I worked, and I only hope I was able to return the same to them. The experience left an indelible mark on me, changed my worldview, and let me reflect on my own culture as well as theirs. I would go back and do it again in a heartbeat.

School for Global Inclusion and Social Development
in the College of Education and Human Development
617.287.3070
sgisd@umb.edu