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Integrating graduate studies with field experience

May 5, 2010

Jenna Covey, a master's student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, is participating in the Peace Corps Master's International Program at Colorado State University. The program integrates graduate study with international field experience through the Peace Corps program.

Jenna Covey stands with the Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Peace Corps volunteer Michelle Santoro.

Living in Tanzania

Jenna Covey is currently living in a small village in Tanzania, where she is involved with several projects. She recently started teaching at the primary school levels six and seven, which are equivalent to sixth and seventh grade.

She is teaching Life Skills, which is a program Peace Corps uses to teach primary students, secondary students, and orphans about peer pressure, decision making, empowerment, and HIV/AIDS. Covey is also teaching at the secondary school level.

Educating others about HIV/AIDS

Covey created a People Living with HIV/AIDS group which is working to start a chicken keeping project. She started teaching the group about HIV/AIDS because surprisingly enough, she says, they know very little about the disease they have.

“HIV/AIDS is a huge issue in Tanzania, and to make matters worse, most people are uneducated about the disease, transmission, and prevention," she says. "Stigma is another problem, which causes many of those who live with HIV/AIDS to stay quiet and not seek the help they may need. Hopefully with this group we will be able to address the problems associated with stigma as well as education.”

She has a Mama's group in which she covers topics such as hygiene, HIV, and better nutrition – and in turn, for International Women’s Day they will help to teach many of the girls of the village about health topics.

World AIDS Day

For World AIDS Day, Covey, along with the five other health volunteers in the region, got together and had a World AIDS Week. They each took around eight people from their villages to the district celebration and each day following there was a celebration in each of the villages.

Covey invited various choirs to sing, and guest speakers spoke about their lives with HIV and the importance of testing and being educated about HIV. A local organization also came out and did AIDS testing for free.

Covey has started a village water committee in hopes of getting pipes placed in the village because the villagers rely on water that comes out of the mountains and rain water.

Her future goals include getting the water project off the ground, starting a garden and using it as a tool to teach about better nutrition, and starting an Orphans and Vulnerable Children group, which would help come up with fundraising projects for food and school fees for orphans.

Meeting the president

One exciting moment for Covey was getting to meet Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania at a nearby village where another Peace Corps volunteer was living.

“I never thought I'd ever be able to say I've met the president of a country!” she says.

Covey helped with the food and drink preparations for Kikwete's visit, and when he arrived he greeted them personally when he got out of his car.

“So far my experience here in Tanzania has been amazing, eye opening, and life changing. I've realized I can do things I never thought possible,” says Covey.

More information on the program

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State University.

The Peace Corps Master’s International Program at Colorado State University gives students in English, Food Science and Human Nutrition, the College of Agricultural Sciences, and the Warner College of Natural Resources the opportunity to earn a master’s degree and gain international development experience through the Peace Corps.

For more information, visit the Office of International Programs.

Contact: Gretchen Gerding
Phone: (970) 491-5182