Peace Out

Rollins students populate the Peace Corps

Neither Becca Egner 11MPHnor Paul Fleming 11MPH planned a career in public health when they signed up to be Peace Corps volunteers in the mid-2000s. 

Egner planned to become a doctor after her two-year stint in Burkina Faso, and Fleming was going to pursue public policy after his Nicaragua posting. In the Peace Corps, though, both fell in love with the public health field.

They were each considering other public health schools when Rollins offered them among the first Paul D. Coverdell Fellowships to enhance the school’s Masters International program.

“We were brought in to strengthen a program to prepare people who wanted to go into the Peace Corps and also to establish partnerships with local refugee settlements and service agencies in Clarkston to sort of mimic the Peace Corps experience,” says Egner, who won the Emory Humanitarian Award in 2011. “It was an incredible opportunity to continue our Peace Corps experience.”

Since those early days, the Peace Corps presence has grown dramatically at Rollins, and the Clarkston-Rollins connection has matured into a strong collaboration, with students working in eight organizations that serve the refugee community.

As for Egner and Fleming, they married in June 2013. Fleming earned a PhD in health behavior, and Egner earned a degree in public health nursing. They are heading to California this fall, where Fleming will do his postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Diego, focusing on HIV in the Latino community. Egner plans to continue in practical public health nursing.

Since the founding of the public health program at Emory forty years ago, many Returning Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) have come through Emory. The Rollins School of Public Health has more than eighty RPCVs, and eighty-eight incoming students have expressed an interest in the Masters International Program. RPCVs may apply for the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship, which was begun in 2011.—Pam Auchmutey

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