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New Mexico State University
College Of Health and Social Services
Nursing, Public Health Sciences and Social Work

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Student Organization

RPCVs and MI Volunteers at NMSU:

Laura Johnson in Paraguay!


Laura Johnson is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and Master’s candidate in Horticulture Science at NMSU. She served as an Agriculture extension volunteer in Paraguay from 2011-2013.

While in Paraguay, Laura learned that Paraguay is the king of “yerba mate”.  Drinking yerba mate tea cold (called, terere) or hot (called, mate) is as essential to daily activities as eating, sleeping, and the bathroom!  It is enjoyed mostly in a small group.  You fill a small cup with loose tea leaves, put a metal straw in it and pour water over the tea leaves to drink the tea.  Everyone in the group shares the same cup and straw as it is passed around the group in a circle



James Fulton in Guatemala!


James Fulton grew up in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. From an early age, he was fascinated by the biological sciences and upon admission to the University of Virginia, chose to pursue a program of study in biology. He received his bachelor’s in 2010. After graduating, James served with the United States Peace Corps in Guatemala from 2011 -2013. While in Guatemala, James served as a Food Security Facilitator in the rural western highlands. His responsibilities included teaching improved agricultural cultivation and harvest, and integrated pest management. Additionally, he taught introductory classes in nutrition where he emphasized the importance of a diverse diet to promote health and wellness. Additionally, he initiated a stove building project to bring improved wood burning stoves to families that had previously relied upon open fires for their cooking and food preparation. Currently, James is pursuing a Master’s degree in horticulture at New Mexico State University. His research focus is on an abiotic disorder affecting chile peppers throughout the south-western United States.


Lindsey Brantley in Peru!


Lindsey Brantley is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and a MPH/MS Nutrition candidate at NMSU.

Lindsey served in Peru from 2010-2013 as a Community Health Volunteer, focusing on child and maternal nutrition, the prevention of common illnesses, and the construction of improved cooking stoves.

In Peru, Lindsey learned that guinea pigs are a delicacy and eaten frequently at celebrations!


Rebecca Dutton served in Ghana from 2007 to 2009 and in Liberia as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in August 2011 to February 2012. Rebecca graduated from NMSU as a Peace Corps Fellow in Spring 2014 with a Master’s in Social Work.


Chris Spurney served in Uganda from 2006 to 2008 as a Community Health Volunteer and NGO advisor. Chris graduated from NMSU as a Peace Corps Fellow with Master’s in Public Health 2014.


Julie Ketelson was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkmenistan from 2002 to 2004. She worked as an ESL teacher and youth educator while in service. Julie graduated from NMSU as a Peace Corps Fellow in 2012 with a Master’s in Public Health.


Nicole Baker served in Honduras from 2007 to 2009 as a Nutrition and HIV educator. She also served as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Guyana in 2010. Nicole graduated as a Peace Corps Fellow at NMSU with a Master’s in Public Health in 2012.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Student Organization


The Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have a thriving community in Southern New Mexico/El Paso Area and often work in partnership with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Student Organization. RPCVSO is a social group for RPCVs Master’s International students at NMSU. In addition to the occasional potluck, RPCVSO seeks out projects that help our local, national and international communities. Some of their recent projects included:


  • Collaborating with other student and community organizations to establish a library for a local domestic abuse shelter
  • Working with domestic abuse shelters in Juarez, Mexico to bring more awareness to the domestic violence issue and help the shelters raise crucial operating funds
  • International fair for a Juvenile Center
  • Assist in planting garden for Community of Hope, a local homeless facility
  • Participating in the Susan G. Koman Foundation Race for a Cure.
  • The RPCVSO is involved with Peace Corp Week each March and plan a variety of activities and events through the week, to share their stories and encourage people to consider Peace Corps as a life changing experience.

This page last updated on October 20, 2014