WVU alumna Lauren Headley is the University's first Peace Corps Prep Program graduate. Headley hopes to volunteer in Senegal for two years.

Armed with a degree in international studies from West Virginia University, Lauren Headley plans to use what she’s learned in the Peace Corps. The first WVU graduate of the Peace Corps Prep Program, Headley, who is from Myersville, Maryland, has applied for a Peace Corps volunteer position in Senegal.

“I always wanted to travel, and I really liked the idea of the Peace Corps and going to a different country, completely different from yours, and actually immersing yourself in the culture,” Headley said. “You’re actually part of your community, and you’re making a difference, and you can see that difference because you’re there for two years.”

Headley is a recently-graduated Honors College senior who focused on community economic development, taking courses in business, economics and leadership. She also volunteered with local organizations, including Christian Help, PlayWorks and Habitat for Humanity.

The Peace Corps Prep certificate program gives its graduates a competitive edge when they apply to the Peace Corps by combining traditional academic instruction with extensive service-learning. Students develop a curriculum plan, attend lectures and meet with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

“We got to talk to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and learn more about it, and I think just talking to other people who have been in the Peace Corps has been the most impactful for me,” Headley said.

In May 2017, the Peace Corps named WVU a partner school, recognizing WVU’s efforts to create this certificate program that aligns curriculum and service learning to support the Peace Corps’ mission of achieving peace and cooperation among nations through global engagement.

“Lauren is an ideal first graduate for this program,” said Cate Johnson, assistant director of ASPIRE and coordinator of the program. “She immersed herself in studies and experiences that will position her well to be a productive and respectful member of the community she works in as a volunteer. I’m sure she’ll do great work.”