The Ford School is home to six Paul D. Coverdell Fellows this academic year. The Coverdell program supports returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) as they pursue their education at graduate schools around the country. In addition to receiving financial support, Coverdell Fellows work in underserved communities during their time in school, usually through a professional internship related to their field of study.
It is fitting that so many Coverdell Fellows come to the University of Michigan, as the university ranks fourth in the nation as an all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers – more than 2,640 alumni have served. The university is also the birthplace of the Peace Corps program. Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech here on October 14, 1960, where he unveiled the idea of sending young people to work in developing countries. Michigan students took up the call, and the Peace Corps program was born the following year.
The Ford School’s current Coverdell Fellows study a range of topics, from health policy and program evaluation to social welfare and international development. Learn more about them below:
Peter Blank (MPP ’18) served from 2009-11 in the Andes of Peru as an environmental management volunteer, focusing on solid waste management, natural resource conservation, and environmental education. He enjoyed developing personal relationships with community members and, together, establishing a successful trash collection and recycling buyback program.
Peter graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a degree in international studies and minors in history and Spanish. After returning from the Peace Corps, Peter relocated to Denver and worked in various capacities to support early childhood education programs across the city and state. He is interested in child and family policy, poverty alleviation, and social welfare.
Samantha Chu (MPP/MBA ’19) spent her service in rural Azerbaijan as an English teacher. She led youth development activities, primarily with women and girls, and worked with Azerbaijani counterparts on programs emphasizing girls' empowerment, creative writing, and student-led language learning. She also took away a deep appreciation for the resourcefulness and hospitality of her host community.
Samantha graduated from Wellesley College in 2011 with majors in economics and English literature. Upon returning to the United States after her Peace Corps service, she worked briefly in the non-profit sector before taking a position with the political asylum adjudications division of the Department of Homeland Security. She is a dual MPP/MBA candidate with the Ford School of Public Policy and Ross School of Business. Her interest areas encompass social/cultural policy, program evaluation methods, and cross-sectoral social impact solutions.
Martha Fedorowicz (MPP ’18) served as a youth development volunteer in Morocco from 2012-14. One of her favorite memories is leading a youth entrepreneurship student business team, which won the Regional Business Competition in Casablanca and went on to receive “The team with the most heart” in the national competition.
Martha graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s in political science and French and a minor in international studies. She is interested in exploring youth development, neighborhood planning, and community participation in public policy both at the domestic and international levels. In addition to serving as a Coverdell Fellow, Martha is also a Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Michigan.
Joshua Fleming (MPP ’17) served in Swaziland as an HIV/AIDS educator, where he collaborated with local stakeholders in efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of HIV. He also supported financial literacy projects and worked to expand micro-loan opportunities.
Joshua graduated magna cum laude from Saginaw Valley State University with a bachelor’s in public administration and health science. After returning from Swaziland, he led outreach efforts in Michigan to increase enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace and the Healthy Michigan Plan. Joshua is interested in exploring how comparative cross-national health policy analysis can create solutions for complex domestic health policy issues. He is also interested in the relationship between public finance and government-sponsored health insurance programs in the 21st century.
Benjamin Rego (MPP ’18) joined the Peace Corps in 2011 and served in a small Paraguayan fishing village called Humaitá. His work centered around community development and he taught civic engagement courses, worked with small business owners on diversification, and founded a neighborhood commission. Midway through Ben’s service, he moved to the capital city of Asunción to work alongside the country director. As a volunteer leader, he coordinated logistics and advised volunteers.
Before joining the Peace Corps, Ben graduated with a degree in environmental economics and policy from the University of California – Berkeley. Most recently, he worked for the Department of Homeland Security as part of the Political Asylum Office. At the Ford School, Ben is looking to branch out and explore matters related to energy policy.
Harry Wolberg (MPP ’17) started his service in 2011 as an English teacher at a public high school in Madagascar. He also worked with community members on improving conservation and sustainability in coastal fisheries. After two years, Harry spent a third year with John Snow Inc. working in rural communities to use technology and data to ensure that communities had sustained access to needed medication during the malaria season.
Harry graduated from NYU with degrees in politics and history and a minor in Africana studies. His interests include social policy, education policy, and international development.