For the fourth year in a row, Tulane was at the top of the list among graduate school volunteers to the Peace Corps. And in good New Orleans fashion, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine celebrated!

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Dean Pierre Buekens cut the first slice of celebratory cake.

Nearly all of the university’s graduate-level volunteers come from SPHTM.

The celebration included a cake and punch, as well as a previously scheduled speaker. Following the cake cutting, Dr. Sonita Singh with the Payson Center discussed “Disentangling Race, Structural inequity, and Disempowerment.”

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Dr. Sonita Singh spoke after the cake and punch party.

Tulane SPHTM has a long history with the Peace Corps, becoming one of the first schools to participate in the Peace Corps Master’s International program. That program, launched in 1987, was an effort to get more volunteers with better skills into the field.

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Associate Dean for Student Affairs T.J. Stranova and Global Scholars Coordinator Lindsey Miller hand out cake to attendees.

In recent years, the Peace Corps has seen record levels of recruitment and discontinued the Master’s International program last year. Tulane SPHTM, however, continues to guide and mentor prospective volunteers through the school’s own Global Scholars Program, and also welcomes many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), including Coverdell Fellows.

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Tulane SPHTM’s Peace Corps and international service mentoring opportunities are coordinated by Coverdell Fellows Kendra Smith and Tiphaine Monroe and Global Scholar Coordinators Emily Engel and Lindsey Miller.

The Global Scholars Program includes monthly seminars, social and community service events, networking with the Louisiana Peace Corps Association, and interaction with the school’s current volunteers in the field. The program is managed by RPCVs and Coverdell Fellows.

Two years ago California native David Roston was in New Orleans to get an in-person view of graduate studies at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He happened to visit just as the school was celebrating being named the top volunteer-producing graduate school by the U.S. Peace Corps for the second year in a row. There, at a reception recognizing this honor, Roston met Dean Pierre Buekens who encouraged him to come to Tulane to earn his master of public health degree (MPH).

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Now on the brink of completing his MPH in health education and communication, Roston’s experience came full circle as he interviewed the dean on local human rights and social justice radio station 102.3 FM WHIV-LP.

The pair discussed the meaning of global health, the feasibility of universal healthcare, and changes in the public health landscape over the dean’s past 15 years of leadership, among other topics. Dean Buekens will step down at the close of his third term at the end of this June.

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Roston hosts NOLA Matters: The Public Health Radio Hour weekly and has interviewed a number of SPHTM faculty, but he counted this interview with the head of the School of Public Health and one of the first people he’d met at Tulane as a singular experience.

Listen to the interview.