Savannah State University Alum Finds Multiple Layers to Cultural Exchange as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Savannah State alumnus Myles Lamar, of Stockbridge, center, is currently teaching math and chemistry to secondary school students as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania.

When he first arrived in Tanzania to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Myles Lamar took on the challenge of teaching math and chemistry to ninth and tenth graders at a local secondary school. Since then, living and working in his community for the last year, the Stockbridge, Georgia native has found that education thrives on stepping outside of the comfort zone – usually when it’s applied from both sides.

“My favorite part of service is my students, those that break out of their shells and aren’t afraid to try something new just because the concept is foreign to them,” Myles said. “It’s also when they inadvertently teach me things about life and myself without even trying to do so.”

After graduating from Savannah State Unversity in 2015 with a STEM degree, Myles felt compelled to improve the lives of people with diverse origins overseas.

“I was motivated to join the Peace Corps because I wanted to offer exposure and opportunity to individuals of less sanctioned backgrounds, in whatever way they needed it,” Myles said. “Also, I wanted to annihilate the myth that the Peace Corps is made up of white Americans to prove that Volunteers of Color are of service as well. While our numbers tend to be fewer, we are here serving, have served and will continue to serve.”

As part of his Peace Corps service, Myles has launched a number of secondary projects that will enrich the lives and education of his students, including the establishment of a regional spelling bee across nine schools and the construction of three science laboratories at his school.

Outside of his service projects, Myles has assumed the major responsibility of cultural ambassador by introducing neighbors in his community to the richness and diversity of American culture.

“My biggest accomplishments in the Peace Corps have been exposing people to look beyond what is presented to them through television, social media and other various news outlets and to critically think on things and not take everything at face value,” he noted.

Acting on Myles’ example, Savannah State recently launched its own Peace Corps Prep Program – in which current students may enroll in coursework geared towards international development with the expectation of pursuing that field after graduation – as a way to encourage more students to foster cultural exchange overseas.

“As an alumnus of Savannah State University, I love that this program is coming to surface,” Myles noted. “This program will definitely help with the school’s progression into becoming an even bigger and better university.”

Looking ahead, Myles hopes to instill a significant sense of ambition in his students so they may feel empowered to serve their community even after he completes his service.

“I want my students to learn that just because you do not necessarily come from a land of wealth and opportunity does not mean that you are limited by those circumstances. I want to show them that they can be great within their own country, helping to develop their place in it as well as that of their own people, and have it one day be among the greatest of national powerhouses.”

Myles will share more of his experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer during the Peace Corps Prep launch event at Savannah State University on October 31st.  

Peace Corps and Georgetown University Announce New Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

Peace Corps Deputy Director Carlos Torres, right, sat down with Rohan Williamson, interim dean at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, as part of the school’s launch of its new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program.

The Peace Corps and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business today announced the launch of a new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program that will provide graduate school scholarships to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. All program Fellows will complete internships in underserved American communities while they complete their studies, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as volunteers.

“We are delighted to partner with Georgetown University to support our Returned Volunteers as they pursue higher education and continue their commitment to service,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Communities are moved forward by the selflessness of volunteers, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have unique skills and experiences to offer their local communities.”

Fellows selected for the program will receive an application fee waiver ($175 value), a minimum of a $10,000 tuition scholarship per year for each of their two years in the Master of Business Administration program, totaling $20,000 in scholarship. Fellows are eligible to apply for potential Graduate Assistantships, and will also be considered for additional funding based on merit qualifications.

“We are pleased to align our Georgetown tradition of being women and men for others and finding creative solutions to the world’s problems with that of the Peace Corps,” said Rohan Williamson, interim dean at the McDonough School of Business. “Through the Coverdell Fellows Program we can work with Returned Volunteers to build upon their global experience and desire to serve.”

Through their internships, Coverdell Fellows apply what they learn in the classroom to a professional setting. They not only gain valuable, hands-on experience that makes them more competitive in today’s job market, but they also further the Peace Corps mission. By sharing their global perspective with the communities they serve, Fellows help fulfill Peace Corps’ Third Goal commitment to strengthen Americans’ understanding of the world and its people.

Fellows will work with the Master of Business Administration Career Center and Global Social Enterprise Initiative to secure internships to complete their Third Goal commitment. In addition, Fellows will be required to participate in the Georgetown Global Business Experience, which allows students to consult for an international company, solving real-world problems for the client.

This partnership is the first university partnership between Peace Corps and Georgetown University.

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program began in 1985 at Teachers College, Columbia University and now includes more than 90 university partners across the country, from the District of Columbia to Hawaii to Alaska. The program is specifically reserved for students who have already completed their Peace Corps service abroad. Since the inception of the program, more than 4,500 Returned Volunteers have participated and made a difference across the country. For more information, visit

To learn more about the Coverdell Fellows Program at Georgetown University, contact MBA Admissions at or (202) 687-4200.

Click here to read a first-hand account of the program from Tahira Taylor, a current Georgetown student and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.


Georgetown MBA Student Compares Graduate School to Her Peace Corps Service in Lesotho


Tahira Taylor, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho, is currently pursuing an MBA degree as part of the Coverdell Fellows Program at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.


Following her service in Lesotho as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Tahira Taylor enrolled in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program at The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Tahira shares how the full-time MBA program adds value to her experience with the Peace Corps. Tahira’s story — originally titled “From Lesotho to the Hilltop: The value of combining my Peace Corps experience with the Georgetown MBA” — was first featured on The McDonough School’s official blog.

Transferable skills

The Peace Corps is tough. When you arrive in your host country, you don’t speak the language (in my case, Sesotho). You have to interact under high stress in a foreign culture with people or tribes whom you never knew existed (the Basotho people). And their expectations of you are extremely high (this was in part thanks to the lovely volunteer who was at my site two years before me). I had to create projects from the ground up through realizing what the community needed, what they were lacking, and how my skills would be able to help them fix the problem. Additionally, I had a challenge of even convincing them that the problems I had identified were problems in the first place. And that those “problems” needing fixing, by me, the American. I had to juggle doing what I thought to be right, what I knew to be right, and what would be appropriate with this culture. It meant that I could not work alone. No matter how much I wanted to work alone, in the end, I had to build a team of locals and fellow volunteers to get my project off the ground. I had to beg loved ones for seed money, and petition organizations to contribute resources. With the final success came many failures that preceded it, each one a discouraging setback. But the Peace Corps experience made me gritty. It raised the bar I had set for myself and for the things I want to accomplish.

The application process to business school

Applying to the Peace Corps and to business school is challenging! Both processes require essays and interviews, but business school seemed to be looking for a heart that was much more difficult to define. While the ideals of “making the world a better place,” or “being a catalyst in the life of a child in a developing nation,” are easily articulated, answering the “why business school?” question is much harder. Given that alternatives exist both for Peace Corps and business school, understanding why either is relevant to you is an arduous task. But in my opinion, business school offers a unique credential that can’t necessarily be duplicated.

I was constantly asked, “why not continue working? Why not start your own business now?” People even asked me, “why don’t you do the Peace Corps again?” These are challenges that make it much more difficult to find the “why” in business school. When I first started the application process, I had a hard time deciding why business school was right for me, but when I joined the Peace Corps, it was much clearer. I didn’t necessarily want to change the world. When I applied to the Peace Corps, I wanted the opportunity to grow personally and expand my horizons while at the same time offering my skills and dedication to a community that often went unheard. I wanted to help develop a community that, because of a lack of resources, struggled to do so on its own. These points were hard to refute. But with business school, many people find the alternatives equally qualifying. I chose to come to business school, particularly the McDonough School of Business, because I wanted to refine my skills in unfamiliar professional areas, build a global network, continue my commitment to community service, and ultimately take my career in a direction that it has become clear would require an MBA.

My MBA experience so far

I have thought of making friends in business school to be a lot like making friends in the Peace Corps. You’re a group of strangers coming from a world of different backgrounds, but you’ve been brought together by the same common struggle. Not only that, but the territory is unfamiliar to everyone. In the Peace Corps when you’re first thrown into a foreign country with other Volunteers, you have to navigate your way around the landscape and still manage to make genuine connections with others. Just like in business school when you think of your classmates as your future network, you have to look at your fellow Volunteers as your future partners on projects. Having the experience of scouting who would be right for a project in the village is just as difficult as deciding who will be able to help me put together the perfect startup proposal!

Business school is tough. When you arrive on campus, you don’t speak the language (in my case, finance). You have to interact in a high-stress environment in a new area with people from professional backgrounds that you never even knew existed, and from countries where you’ve never been. And the expectations of you are extremely high. You have to complete projects from scratch, identify issues, and come up with creative and effective ways to fix them. Sound familiar? The business school experience has made me even more gritty, and because of both my Peace Corps experience, and my time so far at the McDonough School of Business, my personal bar is even higher.

Through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who are admitted to the Full-time MBA Program will receive a minimum of $10,000 in tuition scholarship funding per year and the ability to apply for graduate assistantships. Fellows will complete internships in underserved American communities, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as Volunteers. Additionally, the application fee for all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers will be waived.

You can learn more about the Coverdell Fellows Program when Peace Corps Deputy Director Carlos Torres joins The McDonough School’s Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing Prashant Malaviya and William Novelli, Professor of the Practice and Founder of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative, on campus to discuss Developing Global Leaders Committed to Social Change on Thursday, October 13. Register here to attend. 

Peace Corps Volunteer from Hillsdale, New Jersey Becomes First Woman to Swim Across Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyz Republic


Peace Corps volunteer Sarah D’Antoni, 24, of Hillsdale, New Jersey, became the first woman ever to swim 8.3 miles across Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyz Republic on August 23, 2016. Clocking a time of four hours and 43 minutes, D’Antoni now holds the record as the fastest person to have ever swum across Lake Issyk-Kul, and she is only the third person ever to have done so.

D’Antoni trained for two months to prepare for the swim, doing a combination of swimming exercises, strength training, yoga, and meditation. Though she completed the swim on a summer day, the water was a chilly 66 degrees Fahrenheit.

“There was lightning, rain and wind as we were heading to the starting point. The wind kept up throughout the swim, providing large waves and making staying warm a bit of a problem,” says D’Antoni. “Fortunately, the swim finished before it began to hail and a thunderstorm rolled in.”

D’Antoni began swimming when she was just four years old. Growing up, she swam for the Ridgewood, New Jersey Breakers club swim team and the Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, New Jersey. She also swam for Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida and Florida International University in Miami.

D’Antoni celebrates her record-breaking swim while warming up back on the boat.

D’Antoni is a graduate of Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, New Jersey. She went on to graduate from Florida International University in Miami, Florida in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in marketing.  Prior to joining the Peace Corps, she worked as a project manager at FullBottle Group and as a nanny.

As a member of the swim team at Indian River State College, she helped the team win its 33rd and 34th consecutive national championships. At Florida International University, D’Antoni helped the team clinch a second place finish in the Conference USA Championships in March 2014.

When not taking record-breaking swims in Kyrgyz Republic, D’Antoni works as a Secondary Education English teacher with the Peace Corps.

As a junior in college, “I wanted to live abroad, so I began looking into programs abroad. This is when I found Peace Corps,” said D’Antoni of her desire to join the Peace Corps.

D’Antoni initially applied to serve with the Peace Corps in Thailand, but did not get accepted. A few months later, to her surprise, she received an invitation to serve in the Kyrgyz Republic.

“I decided that if I didn’t take the opportunity presented at that moment, I would never take it,” said D’Antoni. “So, I gave my two weeks’ notice, let my lease run out, drove my belongings up to my parents’ home in New Jersey, and departed on this wonderful, awe-inspiring journey that is the Peace Corps.”

D’Antoni is the daughter of mother and stepfather Tracy Rapheal and Christopher Mueller of Hillsdale, New Jersey, and father and stepmother John and Catherine D’Antoni of Nyack, New York.

During the first three months of her Peace Corps service, D’Antoni lived with a host family in Kyrgyz Republic to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the necessary skills to assist her community, D’Antoni was sworn into service and assigned to the community of Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyz Republic, where she will live and work for two years with the local people.

“My personal and professional goals are to grow more as a person and appreciate every moment of every day, the people I am around and the experiences I am taking part in,” said D’Antoni of her hopes for her Peace Corps service. “My goal, each day, is to plant seeds of change in the minds of young and old, to show that all are capable of dreaming and achieving far beyond what they could ever imagine.”

As a volunteer, D’Antoni is working in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in Kyrgyz Republic and help D’Antoni develop leadership, technical and cross-cultural skills that will give her a competitive edge when she returns home. Peace Corps volunteers return from service as global citizens well-positioned for professional opportunities in today’s global job market.

D’Antoni joins the 187 New Jersey residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 5,000 New Jersey residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

There has never been a better time to apply to Peace Corps, and reforms have made the process simpler, faster, and more personalized than ever before. In 2014, applications reached a 22-year high for the agency, with more than 17,000 Americans taking the first step toward international service. Through a one-hour online application, applicants can now choose the countries and programs they’d like to be considered for. Browse available volunteer positions at

Click here to learn more about Peace Corps volunteers in Kyrgyz Republic.

Peace Corps Director Honors Agents of Change with Kennedy Service Awards

This year’s JFK Service Awards winners included (pictured from left) William Bryan Dwyer, Ryan Goff Smith, M.D., Robert “Bob” Arias, Peace Corps Chief of Staff Laura Chambers, Lauren Breland, Theresa Govert, Trevor “Froggy” Chance.

On September 23, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Peace Corps Chief of Staff Laura Chambers presented the 2016 John F. Kennedy Service Awards at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to six members of the Peace Corps family who have given outstanding public service, both at home and abroad. The award is granted every five years to two current Peace Corps Volunteers, one Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, one Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteer and two Peace Corps staff members.

Among this year’s awardees were Theresa Govert of East Haddam, Connecticut, and Lauren Breland, of Long Island, New York, who are serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Botswana and Thailand, respectively.

“I am very proud to celebrate these exceptional members of the Peace Corps family,” said Director Hessler-Radelet. “To them, public service is a way of life and their dedication to promoting our mission of world peace and friendship is inspiring. No matter where they’re serving, the connections they forge and the difference they make in the lives of others exemplify the Peace Corps spirit.”

Established in 2006, the John F. Kennedy Service Awards recognize the exemplary contributions of Peace Corps staff and volunteers over the years, along with their advancement of public service. Award recipients demonstrate exceptional service and leadership and promote the Peace Corps mission and three goals: to help people of interested countries meet their needs for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served; and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

Theresa Govert began serving in Botswana in August 2013 and extended her service as a volunteer leader with a local gender affairs department and non-governmental organization. Today, she splits her time organizing events that are focused on gender equality and working to create a beauty salon and spa that functions as an alternate employment opportunity for female sex workers.

Theresa has spent the last two years using creative expression as a way to establish safe spaces for people to gather and discuss gender issues. Specifically, she worked with 15 communities in Botswana to participate in the One Billion Rising campaign – an initiative to raise awareness about gender-based violence around the world – through a variety of activities such as dance and photography. In achieving that mission, Theresa collaborated with the Ministry of Health, National Gender Affairs, the United Nations, the U.S. Embassy in Botswana and national television, newspaper and radio stations.

Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Theresa earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and women, gender and sexuality studies from the University of Connecticut.

As the daughter of two Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Theresa was raised in Naivasha, Kenya next door to the Peace Corps training center.

Lauren Breland has always felt passionate about the empowerment of youth and marginalized communities. Lauren currently serves in Thailand as a Youth Development Volunteer, working in local schools to help young students learn English, life skills, community service, reproductive health, sports and other topics.

As an older African-American Volunteer, Lauren represents the diversity of America and has educated her community about her life in the U.S., sharing American music, food, games, and stories from home. She also participated in OneWorld Classrooms, for which 37 of her students drew pictures illustrating Thai culture, sent them to people across 10 countries and received similar drawings in return.

With a bachelor’s degree in Human Services Administration from the University of Baltimore, Lauren has donned many hats while working for school districts and various not-for-profit organizations across the U.S. in such a way that has exemplified her dedication to spearheading important initiatives. Lauren began her service with the Peace Corps in January 2014 and has extended her service until April 2017 to ensure the sustainability of her projects in her community.