Alizabeth Potucek served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon before joining CAPLA's Master of Landscape Architecture program.
The University of Arizona is one of only two universities in the country to offer Coverdell Fellowships to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who are enrolled in a graduate landscape architecture program. The Coverdell Program provides tuition assistance and internship opportunities. Coverdell Fellows find a robust Peace Corps community at the University of Arizona and in Tucson, and many are CAPLA alumni.
Tell us where you went! How did that change your life?
I served in Cameroon from 2013-2015 as an Agricultural Extension volunteer in the rural village of Mbang-Mboum. I collaborated on various community projects related to food security, youth empowerment and public health. Examples of projects I worked on include a community health volunteer training, a village-wide malaria treatment campaign and capacity building through a women’s saving group. In the end, it was the people I met and the relationships formed that had a lasting impact on my life.
How did the experience lead you to studying landscape architecture at CAPLA?
Community driven planning is a concept I first practiced in the Peace Corps, and would like to continue in my work as a landscape architect. I hope to work with underserved populations that are traditionally left out of planning and design. Grassroots community planning can create a more equal distribution of resources, environmental risks and land uses.
Tell us about your current fellowship.
My graduate position is with the Primavera Foundation Community Garden Program. Primavera provides tangible pathways out of poverty for individuals and families by addressing the root causes of inequity. My role is helping maintain and improve the garden areas and programming. We grow food and community engagement through gardens!
How do you plan to change the world?
As we face climate change and rising social inequality, ecological design can be part of the solution. Landscape architecture presents interdisciplinary and practical solutions to foster public wellness and environmental resilience. In my studies I plan to focus on the integration of social infrastructure, and sustainable design through participatory processes.
For more information about the program, including scholarships, visit the University of Arizona Coverdell Fellows site.