Dallas-Area Grads Pioneer New Peace Corps Master’s International Program
June 12, 2008
Agricultural Sciences students gain much more than an education by helping others
and promoting peace.
(L-R) Erin Hoelting and Jackie Forbus are the first students in Texas to participate
in Texas Tech's Peace Corps Master's International program. Photo by Artie Limmer.
Shaped by a willingness to serve and a desire for international experience, two Dallas-area
women, who just graduated from Texas Tech University last month, have been selected
as academic pioneers of sorts.
Erin Hoelting of Lone Oak and Jackie Forbus of Plano are the first in Texas to enter
into the university’s new Peace Corps Master’s International Program
within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Texas Tech University
is the first school in Texas to offer the program.
After graduation, the two not only wanted to channel their efforts into helping others
but also were interested in pursuing advanced degrees. Now, both are back in their
Lubbock classrooms working on graduate degrees in Texas Tech’s Department of Natural
Resources Management. Once they finish three semesters of school work, they’ll be
off for a 27-month overseas assignment with the Peace Corps.
Hoelting said she doesn’t know to what country she’ll eventually be assigned, but
when that time comes her preferences will be taken into consideration.
She majored in natural history and humanities at Texas Tech. Her interest in international
programs and eventually the Peace Corps grew out of earlier coursework in Jamaica
“I was able to focus on the culture and interacting with the environment there,”
she said. “That really sparked my interest.”
Forbus, whose area of study in college was biology, said she always wanted to go
into the Peace Corps.
“It’s been a goal of mine since I was very young," Forbus said. "When I heard about
this Master’s International Program, I thought 'this is the perfect time; they’re
going to train me, give me a master’s degree and send me to the Peace Corps. It's
exactly what I wanted.'
“I want to have a hand in developing a nation and a developing people. So many of
these things are bigger than myself.”
The Peace Corps Master's International program provides graduate students with a
global view of the world and the skills and education needed to make positive change.
Peace Corps Master’s International students have the option of choosing courses at
Texas Tech under a general heading of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources,
which includes courses from agricultural and applied economics, agricultural education
and communications, animal and food sciences, landscape architecture, plant and soil
sciences, and natural resources management. The 36-hour degree program includes
six hours of credit for Peace Corps service.
In order to assist students interested in this program, the College of Agricultural
Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) and Texas Tech’s Graduate School offer $6,000
scholarships to help offset tuition and other costs associated with the student’s
one year of coursework.
The Global Classroom
Globalization is important in agriculture today, and development of this program
is a positive step for the college, said John Burns, dean of CASNR.
“Students who have international experience and know about a foreign culture are
going to be heads and shoulders above many others," he said. "I’m really proud of
these two young women who have accepted this challenge.”
Coursework will center on a core area of natural resources management, along with
some classes outside of the college such as geography and biology.
“Graduates today are going out into a globalized world,” said Ambassador Tibor Nagy,
vice provost for International Affairs. “Employers are going to be looking for exactly
the type of resumes that these students are going to have. The important thing was
finding fields of study that compliment the type of Peace Corps assignments students
might have. The match here is just phenomenal.”
According to Peace Corps officials, volunteers help farmers improve local diets and
increase income through farming techniques consistent with environmental conservation.
Among the organization’s agricultural initiatives are agroforestry, applied agriculture,
farm management/agribusiness, and animal husbandry. Since 1987, Master’s International
has expanded to include partnerships at more than 50 universities throughout the
For more information about Texas Tech's Peace Corps Master's International program
, contact Richard Menard
, study abroad counselor/international exchange coordinator, at (806) 742-3667.
Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing
, (806) 742-2136.