Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellowship

Peace Corps Volunteers walking with the community

Peace Corps Connections

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program is a fellowship program that offers financial assistance to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). Selected Emory Coverdell Fellows will have the opportunity to earn a BSN, and/or MSN or DNP degree(s). Internships in underserved communities are an integral part of each fellow’s degree. By sharing their Peace Corps experience and global perspective in the classroom and with the communities they serve here in the United States, RPCVs are supporting the Peace Corps’ Third Goal commitment to “strengthen Americans’ understanding of the world and its people”. Professional placements at nonprofits and government organizations also support further development of student’s skills. Coverdell Fellows participate in service learning with Atlanta-based community organizations that cater to a variety of vulnerable populations, including homeless people, low-income populations, refugee populations, the elderly, veterans, and disabled children.

The Coverdell Fellows Program partnership provides scholarships to returned Peace Corps volunteers who complete a degree-related internship in an underserved American community while they pursue their studies. Within the School of Nursing, the Lillian Carter Center for Global Health & Social Responsibility will provide Service -Learning opportunities to up-and-coming nurses.

To date, RPCVs have worked in clinics for refugees and other immigrant populations, homeless, and at-risk-youth.

Other benefits to Peace Corps Fellows include:

  • Financial Assistance: Fellows selected for the program will receive up to $3,000 per semester.
  • Professional Experience: Internships in underserved communities are an integral part of each fellow’s degree. 
  • Serve the Community: Emory Coverdell Fellows will participate in Service-Learning within Atlanta-based community organizations that cater to a variety of vulnerable populations.
  • Furthering the Peace Corps Mission: By sharing their Peace Corps experience and global perspective with the communities they serve here in the United States, returned volunteers are supporting the Peace Corps’ Third Goal commitment to strengthen Americans' understanding of the world and its people.

To qualify for the program, applicants must:

  • Satisfactory completion of Peace Corps Service
  • Meet the admission requirements of Emory University and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing (NHWSON)
  • Be admitted to or enrolled as a full-time student at the NHWSON in a program granting a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) and/or Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Maintain full-time student status and a 3.5 GPA
  • Fellows are expected to actively participate in community of scholarship and service.

Emma PrasherEmma Prasher

Emma served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso from 2009-2012, working first as a secondary education volunteer and later extending her service for a third year to work on a nutrition project with Save the Children. While working as a teacher, Emma taught middle school biology and geology in addition to sexual education classes. She also spearheaded the development of Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) nationally, making the camp more unique and inclusive to become Camp G2LOW (Girls and Guys Leading Our World). This camp taught young boys and girls the value of working together as equals. After returning to the United States, Emma joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the Public Health Associate Program (PHAP). As a PHAP, Emma was placed in Philadelphia working with the Philadelphia Quarantine Station and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. In 2015, Emma relocated to Atlanta to continue working with the CDC on the Ebola Response, which included deployment to Guinea. While working on the Ebola Response, Emma was a member of the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) team, working closely with the Guinean Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. She worked on several active case-finding campaigns, in addition to training local staff on IPC techniques. After working in public health for several years, Emma returned to school to gain a more hands-on approach to patient care.

Since starting the Acelerated Master of Science in Nursing (AMSN) program at Emory in May 2016, Emma has continued to be involved in her community by volunteering at Community Advanced Practice Nurses, Inc. She continues working with the CDC on the MenAfriNet team, supporting an epidemiology team to coordinate meningitis surveillance activities in West Africa. Using her French skills, Emma is managing epidemiologic data and laboratory results in addition to developing surveillance training materials for use in the field. As a future family nurse midwife, Emma is excited to continue serving her community both here in the United States and abroad. She currently serves as the AMSN SGA Secretary and is also a member of the Emergency Preparedness Student Nursing Association (EPSNA).

Brianna CascielloBrianna Casciello

Brianna served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru from 2010-2012, serving indigenous families in several rural communities as a Health Specialist in the Andes region. Community- supported initiatives included: training adolescents in a comprehensive reproductive and sexual health peer educator training program; implementing a sanitation and hygiene focused behavior change program with sanitary latrine construction; increasing regular immunizations for children by providing support for vaccine campaigns; and promoting diet diversification via school gardens.

After returning to the US, Brianna joined the international health organization, PATH in Washington DC, where she strengthened her programmatic and technical skills in maternal and newborn health. Over the course of three years, Brianna supported two multi-year global health programs funded by USAID, specifically focusing her efforts on reducing newborn health mortality and morbidity in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Brianna periodically traveled to countries in the region, supporting the interagency efforts of the LAC Neonatal Alliance, the formation of a regional newborn deaths surveillance working group, and regional trainings for healthcare providers in resource poor settings. As a participant in a year-long monitoring and evaluation program for young professionals at PATH, Brianna focused her research on the uptake of an electronic based pilot program for tracking data on newborn babies enrolled in hospital-based Kangaroo Mother Care in four public referral hospitals. Brianna developed her first clinical skills by completing the Master Trainer curricula in Essential Care of Every Baby and Essential Care for the Small Baby, an essential newborn care training program developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and based on the latest WHO guidelines.

Brianna started the AMSN program at Emory University in May 2016. She is concurrently supporting the CDC’s Global Migration Taskforce on a rapid qualitative assessment regarding migrant farm workers’ understanding of the Zila virus, as well as their access and willingness to use public health interventions (such as insect repellents and condoms) to prevent the spread of Zika. Findings of these focus groups and key informant interviews will help inform future Zika communication messaging targeting this particularly vulnerable population.  

Brianna is also engaged on Emory’s campus, serving as the AMSN cohort representative for the Emory Student Nurses Association (ESNA) and also as a member of the Emergency Preparedness Student Nursing Association (EPSNA). Upon graduating from the family nurse midwifery program, Brianna plans to combine her passion for public health with the delivery of evidenced- based care for underserved populations locally and globally.

Samantha HydesSamantha Hydes

Samantha served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 2012-2014, working as a Community Economic Development volunteer. Her primary role focused on educating and consulting with local community organizations on business development and organizational management. With the entrepreneurship program, Construye Tus Sueñ​os (Build Your Dreams), Samantha taught young adults the skills and knowledge to start their own small businesses within their own community. She also served as a facilitator for Chicas Brillantes (Bright Girls), a healthy lifestyle and career -planning program for adolescent girls. This is where Samantha discovered her love for health education, leading her to expand her healthcare experience as an interpreter for medical missions from the United States, ultimately leading Samantha to Emory to pursue a career in nursing.

Since starting the AMSN program in 2015, Samantha has acted as a vibrant member of various organizations focused on underserved populations. For example, she has worked as a Clinical and Patient Care Coordinator with Community Advanced Practice Nurses, Inc., a local health clinic that provides physical and mental health services to patients without insurance at no cost. Samantha has volunteered with Familias Saludables, which provides Hispanic families with healthy diet and exercise education, as well as Health Career Academy, where she taught public health and served as a mentor for high school juniors at North Clayton High School.

Samantha also participated in the Dominican Republic Alternative Spring Break trip, where she served as an interpreter between host country nationals and Emory students while working in maternal health in a community hospital, educating health promoters, and conducting home visits to pregnant women and individuals with chronic illnesses. Participants benefited from an afternoon visit to Samantha’s former Peace Corps site in La Cabirma, where fellow students experienced a typical afternoon of rural Dominican life complete with lunch served by Samantha’s Peace Corps host family.

Samantha has represented the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at both the Georgia Association of Nursing Students (GANS) and National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) annual conferences. Samantha loves her work in Atlanta and plans to continue educating vulnerable populations throughout her MSN program. Following her anticipated graduation in 2018, Samantha plans to stay in the Atlanta area to serve as a FNP/CNM. 

Jessica GozaJessica Goza

Jessica served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal from 2010 to 2012 as a Health Extension agent. Working in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, Jessica developed innovative and culturally tailored programs to promote maternal-child health and sanitation. After a successful grant-writing campaign, Jessica recruited a local team to renovate a rural community health and maternity center, complete with new beds and running water.

Before the Peace Corps, Jessica worked as a surgical technician at a San Francisco abortion clinic, regularly crossing lines of protesters as she provided professional and emotional support to women with diverse cultural and religious needs. Deeply committed to the care of others, Jessica continued her work with the public after the Peace Corps, working as a certified nursing assistant in Santa Cruz, California, where her work at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities imbued her with a proud devotion to the needs of older adults.

At Emory, Jessica has participated in service learning trips with the Lillian Carter Center, traveling to St. Thomas and Haiti. Locally, Jessica has volunteered, providing health education to refugees without insurance at the Clarkston Community Health Center. She currently serves on the board of the Atlanta Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (AARPCV) organization.

Currently completing her final semester of the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Program, Jessica advances this mission as a Veteran’s Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership for Graduate Education Scholar. Jessica is excited to carry the spirit of the Peace Corps with her as she continues her tireless work to improve her community working as a primary care nurse practitioner after graduation.

Applications are now being accepted for this program.
Fill out my online form.

For questions or additional information about the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, please contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Downes
Phone: 404.727.1544
Email: edownes@emory.edu