Over the next three weeks, ALEC students Tegan Walker, Orry Pratt and Kevin Fath will share their insights and experiences with Masters International, a program that allows masters students to combine their education with service in the Peace Corps.
The Master’s International program combines Peace Corps service with a master’s degree. A select number of schools in the United States offer the Master’s International program and of those, very few offer degrees in agricultural fields.
At Texas A&M, the Master’s International program has three parts. First, you complete 24 credits on campus. Next, you complete 27 months of Peace Corps service. Upon your return, you attend a final semester at Texas A&M to complete your degree and graduate. Your Peace Corps service has all the same requirements of a regular PC volunteer, with an additional component that you conduct research while you are there for your thesis.
I decided to do the Master’s International program because I wanted a program that could offer me more than a master’s degree. I knew I wanted to go directly from my undergraduate to a graduate program. After researching schools with sustainable international agricultural programs, I came across the Master’s International program. I had thought about Peace Corps before, but had never acted on the step of applying. Once I found out I could combine Peace Corps service with a master’s degree and receive research credits during my service, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
I am currently in my second semester at Texas A&M and waiting to hear from the Peace Corps about my country invite. Might I say, it is very nerve racking. I cannot wait to hear where I will be going!
With that being said, I don’t want to make it seem like everything is rainbows and butterflies when applying to the Peace Corps. The process is long and a lot of information is needed. Here are some tips if you are considering applying for the Master’s International program and the Peace Corps:
- Apply as early as possible! I know this seems obvious but really, get that application submitted early in your first semester!
- You will need your Master’s International acceptance letter before you can submit your application. This can take awhile to get, so apply to the Master’s International program as soon as you’ve been accepted by Texas A&M.
- Be prepared to contact every doctor you’ve seen for any special condition. Even if it was ten years ago and the condition no longer exists, the Peace Corps will want to hear more about it.
- Ask lots of questions! Talking to several returned Peace Corps volunteers helped me tremendously. Let’s face it; there are a lot of questions that cannot be answered unless it’s by a returned volunteer. With that, keep in mind that every Peace Corps experience is different and the specific questions for your service probably won’t be answered until you arrive on site.
My final piece of advice: it’s perfectly normal to have fears and reservations about joining the Peace Corps. You’re spending 27 months overseas for crying out loud. This won’t be the first time I admit this; I’m pretty frightened of what’s to come of my service. There are so many unknowns, how can I not be? But that’s ok! I was raised to dream big and reach for the stars. “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” -Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Tegan Walker is currently a graduate student at Texas A&M University. She is focusing on international agricultural development related to environmental sustainability. She is also participating in the Master’s International program and will complete 27 months of Peace Corps service as part of her master’s degree. Originally from West Virginia, Tegan was home schooled for most of her schooling and started at a community college at only 16. She soon transferred to Virginia Tech and completed a Master’s of Science in Applied Economic Management in the spring of 2012. After she completes the Master’s International program she hopes to continue working internationally to help developing countries develop their agriculture in a sustainable manner. Follow Tegan’s Adventures to a Sustainable Future.