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TODAY news for Thursday, September 14, 2006

School of Public Health news

School of Public Health hires Peace Corps liaison to support volunteers

The School of Public Health is taking a new step to help its students and, in turn, the world. For the first time, the School is staffing a person whose sole responsibility is supporting Peace Corps volunteers, both past and future.

This summer, Lory Alido, MPH, RN, began working in the new position—Peace Corps Master’s International and Fellows Program liaison.

She plans to create greater continuity and visibility in the School’s two Peace Corps programs. She would also like to increase enrollment in these programs.

“These programs will bring to our School the kind of individual who wants to serve his/her community and world, which fits nicely with the overall mission of LLU,” Ms. Alido says.

Loma Linda University’s mission “to make man whole” does correspond in many ways with the purpose of the Peace Corps. Created in 1961, the volunteers of the United States Peace Corps currently serve about 70 countries in projects such as education, youth outreach and community development, the environment, and information technology.

LLU School of Public Health has two programs tailored for Peace Corps students. One of these programs, Fellows/USA, is designed for Peace Corps volunteers who return to the United States seeking master’s and doctoral degrees. Fellows/USA students are given advanced standing for the master’s of public health field practicum and are required to serve in community projects on behalf of their respective departments. They also receive a partial tuition benefit from the School of Public Health.

The other Peace Corps program, called Master’s Inter-national, is designed for students who plan to volunteer overseas with the corps when their coursework at LLU School of Public Health is finished. The Peace Corps assignment serves as the student’s field practicum, and the School provides a tuition scholarship for the practicum.

Peace Corps volunteers devote 27 months to working in their assigned country.

“Students gain immediate, hands-on experience in the international setting in their area of study, learn new languages, expand their own ability to be innovative and flexible, and come back to the United States and to us as a tremendous resource,” Ms. Alido says.

She speaks from experience. Ms. Alido served with the Peace Corps in Paraguay from 1998 to 2000. There, she spent more than two years in the small rural community of Calle Primero de Marzo. She tackled health education and improved child survival for the area’s 450 residents. Among other projects, she helped bring to the community brick stoves with chimneys—an important component in reducing indoor air pollution—and running potable water.

“Being a volunteer and serving for 27 months in a country that is so different from mine gave me the ability to be immensely flexible, deal with people from just about any background, speak two new languages, have great job experience right out of school, and truly understand and appreciate the world in a larger context beyond my own perspective,” she says.

Because the job was tough, it also helped her grow a deeper relationship with God, she says.

Upon returning to the States,  Ms. Alido graduated from LLU’s School of Public Health, where she had studied international health in 1996 and 1997. She says she experienced no difficulty landing her first job.

“Peace Corps has opened many doors for me in my professional life,” she says.

Current students who want to follow in Ms. Alido’s footsteps as a Peace Corps volunteer should check to see if their academic department is included in the Master’s International program. It accepts MPH students in five departments: environmental and occupational health, global health, health administration (for either the MPH or MBA), health promotion and education, and nutrition.

The Fellows/USA program can accept one Peace Corps returned volunteer in each of the School of Public Health’s six departments—environmental and occupational health, epidemiology and biostatistics, global health, health administration, health promotion and education, and nutrition.

For more information about Peace Corps programs, contact Ms. Alido at (909) 558-4800, ext. 42072, or send an e-mail to <sphpcinfo@llu.edu>.

By Heather Reifsnyder

TODAY news for Thursday, September 14, 2006