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Published March 05, 2019
University of Wyoming graduate student Coletan Nutter, an “Air Force kid” who grew up in multiple states across the country before landing in Laramie, has chosen to make Wyoming his focus for betterment through UW’s new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program.
“We are so proud to have Cole Nutter, who so well exemplifies all that Coverdell stands for, as our first scholar,” says Stephanie Anderson, head of the School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies (SPPAIS).
UW and the Peace Corps have partnered to launch the program that provides graduate school scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers.
“The Coverdell Fellows Program provides a great opportunity for returned Peace Corps volunteers to continue their service to underserved communities while also pursuing graduate studies at a reduced cost,” according to the Peace Corps website.
SPPAIS provides Coverdell Fellows who wish to pursue master’s degrees in political science, public administration or international studies with full graduate assistantships, including tuition, stipends and health insurance.
“The International Studies program has had a long history working with returning Peace Corps volunteers,” Anderson says. “We are very excited to become a Coverdell partner institution so we can deepen this relationship.”
Nutter is in his first year of the graduate program and is UW’s first Coverdell Fellow.
As part of the program, all members of the fellowship are required to complete internships in underserved communities in the United States, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as volunteers.
As a volunteer, Nutter’s primary project was education in Omatjete, a small village in the Erongo region of Namibia, Africa.
“I taught fourth- through seventh-grade English, life skills, information technologies and adult computer literacy,” Nutter says. “I ran a library and did a bunch of professional development and grant proposal writing. I also operated the copier, which was a nonstop job.”
Nutter has not yet worked out the details of his internship, but he is confident the program will help in giving him a step up in the job market, in terms of both hard and soft skills, as well as the competitive edge in the job market.
He hopes to work within sustainable and collaborative development agencies after graduation.
“This is to say, agencies that work within a cultural context as opposed to those that simply give money or supplies to different states for unsubstantiated distribution,” Nutter says. “Peace Corps taught me the difference between these organizations. It also offered me a perspective that was previously unavailable to me.”
The program will give Nutter and all future UW Coverdell Fellows financial assistance, professional experience, the chance to help others while furthering the Peace Corps mission, and the possibility of extending noncompetitive eligibility status for federal job applications from one year to three years.
Returned Peace Corps volunteers earn lifetime eligibility for the program if they completed a full two-year tour of Peace Corps service; were given “completion of service” status; were medically separated; were given “interrupted service” status because of circumstances beyond their control; or were Peace Corps response or global health services partnership volunteers who completed 12 months of service within a 24-month period, according to the website.
For more information about the Coverdell Fellows Program, visit www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/university-programs/coverdell-fellows/.