November 26, 2003 - Cumberland Times News: RPCV Becky Diehl creates Nicaragua Scholarship Program

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nicaragua: Peace Corps Nicaragua: The Peace Corps in Nicaragua: November 26, 2003 - Cumberland Times News: RPCV Becky Diehl creates Nicaragua Scholarship Program

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Thursday, November 27, 2003 - 11:03 am: Edit Post

RPCV Becky Diehl creates Nicaragua Scholarship Program

RPCV Becky Diehl creates Nicaragua Scholarship Program

She wants to give them a chance

Former Peace Corps worker creates Nicaragua scholarship

Maria D. Martirano
Times-News Staffwriter

CUMBERLAND — For what equates to almost $1 a day, or a little more than the cost of a candy bar here, Nicaraguan children living in a national park have the opportunity to go on to high school.

The only problem is, most of those families don’t have the $175 it takes to provide transportation for the school year.

Becky Diehl, a former Peace Corps member who served in Nicaragua, is working to make sure at least some of those children have the chance to further their education.

At 23, the Cumberland resident and two of her Peace Corps friends, Curt Jepsen of Sunrise, Fla., and Max Gomberg of San Francisco, established the Nicaragua Scholarship Program that will enable sixth-grade graduates who reside in the El Tisey/Estanzuela Park the opportunity to attend high school. The scholarship is a transportation stipend that will allow the children to travel to the nearest high school.

“It’s about an hour bus ride one way because the road is so bad,” Diehl said. “It’s not a far distance. It should take 20 minutes max.”

Caption: (Left to right) Becky Diehl was an Environmental Education Volunter in Telica, Leon from Sept 2000 to Dec 2002. She made some wonderful friendships during that time that she would like to keep for a lifetime. She hopes that she left as big an impact on Nicaragua that it has left on her. She also hopes to visit again...and soon.

Max Gomberg, an Environmental Education Volunteer in Nicaragua from September 2000 through December 2002 lived and worked in Puerto Cabezas on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. He is excited to be returning to visit and initiate this scholarship program in December.

Curtis Jepsen, an Environmental Education Volunteer in Nicaragua from September 2000 through December 2002, lived in El Tisey/Estanzuela for two years working with youth and catalyzing community development. He is currently training to become a firefighter.

She said the three hope to help at least 10 children initially. She said some “really great organizations” have agreed to help and so far they’ve collected about $700. The three estimate the scholarships will need to be about $150 per student, or $75 per semester.

Diehl said for these Nicaraguan students, it costs about $300 annually for school supplies, uniforms, a snack and transportation, which is a “huge issue.”

She said the rural families often have more than one child, which makes affording an education almost impossible.

“While I was in the Peace Corps, if we needed help, so many people in America were willing to help,” she said. “It’s almost a crime not to ask.”

Gomberg works for a nonprofit organization, which agreed to handle the money. Any donation made goes to the Vanguard Foundation and is tax-deductible.

“No money will go through our hands,” Diehl said.

Students must apply for the scholarship and write a 300-word essay that will focus on how the scholarship will help them and their family. They’ll be required to perform 10 hours of community service in the park per semester.

The students will be eligible for continued funding if they maintain a 70 percent average.

Diehl will return to Nicaragua on Sunday and will stay there through Dec. 30. Gomberg and Jepsen also will make the trip giving the three an opportunity to encourage students to apply for the funding.

A 1996 graduate of Fort Hill High School, she served in the Peace Corps from September 2000 through December 2002. A commercial she saw as a child convinced her she wanted to join the corps.

She applied as a senior at Marietta College where she studied environmental science and learned the week before finals she could go to Nicaragua. There, she worked primarily as an elementary school aide.

“First and foremost, in the Peace Corps, you learn so much about yourself and secondly, culture,” she said. “But the most important thing ... and it sounds hokey, is you learn people are people. People may look different and eat different things, but we laugh at the same things.”

Since her return, Diehl has worked at some temporary jobs and has applied to graduate school.

She’s been able to spend time with her family, but is anxious to return to Nicaragua and get the scholarship program started.

Donations to the program may be sent to: Vanguard Public Fund, 383 Rhode Island St., Suite 301, San Francisco, CA 94103 with “Nicaragua Scholarship” written in the memo section. For more information, visit or or e-mail info@nicaraguascholarshipprogram.org0.

Maria D. Martirano can be reached a

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Cumberland Times News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Service; COS - Nicaragua; Scholarships



By Eric Comette ( - on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 11:02 am: Edit Post

I am trying to contact Curt Jepsen. Any contact information on him? Postal, E-mail, phone number?
Please respond to Eric Comette (

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.