A recent Fort Valley State University graduate is the first to complete the Peace Corps Prep (PCP) program for a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
Randy Goss Jr., 30, graduated in December 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in criminal justice. The Fort Valley native and Marine Corps veteran was the first student to enroll in the PCP program as a junior when it launched in 2016. FVSU is the first HBCU to offer the program.
Although honored to be the first graduate, Goss said at the time, he was mostly interested in just joining the program. “I didn’t know I was the first until I was informed I was,” he noted.
He said he is excited about representing not just FVSU, but all HBCUs. “It made me feel more proud to represent Fort Valley first and for the university to be the first HBCU to do it,” he said.
Goss got involved in the PCP program because of the international opportunity. He said he also learned about the history of the Peace Corps and success stories of volunteers who endured following their service.
His interest in the program stems from his desire to help others. As the current southeast regional treasurer of the Young Democrats of America and co-founder of the Peach County Young Democrats, Goss said the PCP program prepared him to serve globally.
“Being from here, you’re kind of stuck in the culture here. It changes your mindset from a local standpoint to a global standpoint,” he said.
PCP coordinator Ann Gillespie, who is an FVSU veterinary technician, agrees that the program prepares students for global opportunities.
“In an increasingly global society, intercultural knowledge is becoming a necessary skill, not just a marketable concept. While most majors effortlessly complete the skills concentration portion, the requirements for PCP direct electives toward establishing a base of knowledge that will help students excel in future assignments that have an international component,” she said.
FVSU offers the PCP program for all underclassmen and provides them with a structured course of study that compliments their major, enhances their education and encourages them to apply to become Peace Corps volunteers. Requirements include speaking a foreign language, community service and courses to enhance global understanding.
“The main challenge was the foreign languages because I graduated high school in 2007 and then I did military service in the Marine Corps,” Goss said, noting he chose to study Spanish because it is a universal language.
Upon finishing the PCP program, students receive a certificate of completion, which greatly increases their chances for acceptance into the Peace Corps after graduation. Goss said he is interested in serving in Africa, Brazil, Argentina or Peru. He plans to apply for the Peace Corps, but he first wants to attend law school and possibly open his own firm. He is currently studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). His goal is to enroll in law school the upcoming fall semester at Howard University, the University of Miami or Florida Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University.
Goss advises other students to take advantage of the PCP program at FVSU.
“It offers you the opportunity to travel internationally and to have your mental capacity more open to others than yourself,” he said. “It was always about helping other people for me. It was never for myself.”
Interested students can apply online at https://ag.fvsu.edu/students/fvsu-peace-corps-prep.