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News from the Hill December 03, 2012 | back to index

Andover Newton a pioneer in financial aid to returned Peace Corps volunteers

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Andover Newton Theological School has become the first seminary to partner with the Peace Corps in offering Paul D. Coverdell Fellowships for graduate study to returned Peace Corps volunteers.

Under the terms of the Coverdell Fellows Program, former Peace Corps volunteers receive a 30 percent tuition discount for graduate study at Andover Newton, totaling nearly $15,000 over three years.

“We are pleased and honored to have established this important partnership with the Peace Corps,” said Andover Newton Theological School President Nick Carter. “Peace Corps service is often a life-defining experience, and because of it many volunteers recognize they have a lasting call to service. There is no better place for former Peace Corps volunteers to pursue that calling than through the in-depth preparation that a seminary can provide—especially Andover Newton, the nation’s oldest graduate school of theology and a leader in teaching multi-faith border-crossing skills.” 

The Coverdell Fellows Program offers returned Peace Corps volunteers the opportunity to earn a Master of Divinity, one of three Master of Arts degrees, a Doctor of Ministry or one of five short Certificates at Andover Newton Theological School. Within these programs, students may choose to concentrate in Interfaith Leadership, Spiritual & Pastoral Care, Ministerial Leadership or Ethics & Social Justice. Coverdell Fellows also gain practical experience in ministry through yearlong field-based internships in churches and community organizations in underserved American communities.

Rev. John Woodward“My experiences in the Peace Corps were of prime importance in my spiritual formation,” said the Rev. John Woodward, a United Church of Christ minister and Andover Newton’s first Coverdell fellow. He served in Nicaragua in 1975-76. “The Peace Corps was faith in action and helped propel me on a journey that led to Andover Newton for my Master of Divinity (’99), to pastoring a church in Maine, and now back to Andover Newton for a Doctor of Ministry.”

“Like the Peace Corps, my times at Andover Newton have offered transformative experiences,” John said. “And indeed for me the Peace Corps and Andover Newton are inextricably intertwined. My current research focuses on liberation theology, which I first encountered in Nicaragua during my Peace Corps days.”

Other benefits of the Andover Newton graduate programs include: practitioner guidance in ministry and leadership development; academic advice, assistance and support; lifelong learning opportunities; and interfaith engagement within a supportive and close-knit community.

“The Peace Corps is delighted to partner with Andover Newton and help more Americans pair Peace Corps service with graduate school,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. “Peace Corps volunteers are creative problem solvers who have demonstrated a commitment to public service and a desire to learn about other cultures. The Coverdell Fellows Program enables them to bring the benefits and lessons of their Peace Corps experience back home, and Andover Newton offers an excellent option for those who are looking for ways to continue a life of service.”

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, established in 1985, partners with graduate schools across the United States; currently more than 70 universities are part of the program. Peace Corps volunteers who have satisfactorily completed their service have lifetime eligibility to participate in the Coverdell Fellows Program.

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