Universitas
"...Online Newsletter from the Pittsburg State University College of Arts and Sciences"

PSU: On the road to the Peace Corps

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Erin Sims is a Peace Corps volunteer who is teaching English in Ukraine.  Joining the Peace Corps had been a dream of Erin's but she didn't take the shortest path.

"Joining the Peace Corps was something I became interested in during high school," says Erin Sims, "but I wasn't quite ready to go to college after I graduated."

Although a college degree isn't required to become a Peace Corps volunteer, Sims believed she would have a better chance at being accepted with a degree than without.

"At the time I didn't really believe I would ever be able to make it happen." 

In the meantime Sims moved to Phoenix, only years later moving back home to Pittsburg in order to attend PSU. As a non-traditional student, she found that it was a struggle to adapt to the change in lifestyle. 

"Juggling a full academic course load and continuing to work full-time was a challenge, but it was absolutely worth it, she says.  

During her time at Pittsburg State, a conversation with a friend who was considering the Peace Corps rekindled Erin's interest.

"As I researched and expressed this interest to my advisors, I found several faculty and staff on campus who were former volunteers themselves and who were more than willing to share stories about their experiences with me." 

The consensus was that volunteering is an opportunity not to be passed up, and in most cases, it was life changing. 

After going through the application process Erin was invited to teach English in Ukraine this September. 

"I know that attending PSU helped me accomplish my goal.  I was able to go on two study abroad trips; one independently through a K-State program for six weeks to Istanbul, and the other for two weeks in Korea with a group program at PSU."

Sims was also able extend her international experience by meeting students from all over the world in her PSU classes and through the conversation partners program in the International Students office. 

"I attended programs presented by international student groups as often as I could and gained experience helping non-native English speakers by tutoring international students both privately and in the writing center." 

Erin also assisted teaching through a community program at the Adult Education Center.  She completed two Bachelor's degrees; one in English, with a Technical Writing emphasis, and the other in International Studies.  

"I know there are many students at PSU facing the same challenges I did," says Erin, "but PSU instructors are fair. They understand, encourage, and support students who have responsibilities outside the classroom.  They truly care and want to see all of their students succeed.

"Returning to PSU to compete my degrees was one of the best decisions I've ever made."


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