Mar 11, 2016

Colleges continue strong commitment to global volunteerism through the Peace Corps

Once again, local colleges and universities showed alumni commitment to global volunteerism by making impressive showings on lists of top volunteer-producing schools recently announced by the Peace Corps. And the numbers reveal campus cultures that strongly support international study and understanding.

“The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Today’s graduates understand the importance of intercultural understanding and are raising their hands in record numbers to take on the challenge of international service.”

With 43 undergraduate alums currently serving around the world,
George Washington University claimed the top spot among medium-sized colleges and universities, followed closely by American University with 42 alums currently serving. The University of Virginia (36), Georgetown University (29), the College of William and Mary (24), Johns Hopkins University (14), and Howard University (16)—the first and only historically Black university to appear on the list—ranked among the top 25 colleges in the same category.

For the 12th year, the University of Mary Washington also found a place on the Peace Corps’ list of top colleges among schools with fewer than 5000 undergrads. In all, nearly 250 UMW alumni have served the 27-month commitment since the Peace Corps was launched in 1961. The University of Richmond, with nine alums currently serving, appeared on the same list.

And both the University of Maryland (41) and James Madison University (35) are included on the list of top volunteer-producing “large” universities enrolling 15,000 or more students.

Celebrating over a half century of promoting peace and friendship around the world, more than 220,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps in 141 host countries.  In 2015, the agency saw a 40-year high in application numbers, “reinforcing the Peace Corps’ role as a dynamic, forward-leaning champion for international service” in every corner of the world.

Although a college degree is not mandatory for service, relevant experience in areas such as education, health, business, environment or agriculture is required.  Most colleges will support potential applicants through their student services offices.

The Peace Corps’
eight regional offices, located across the US, recruit and provide information and guidance to prospective volunteers including current undergrads. Potential applicants can connect with local recruiters on the Peace Corps website.

And returning Peace Corps volunteers may receive support from the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which partners with more than 100 universities across the country.  Among the local colleges and universities supporting this program by offering graduate fellowships allowing students to complete internships in underserved American communities are American University, Catholic University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, UMBC, University of Maryland, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

For more information on the Peace Corps or the Coverdell Fellows Program, visit the Peace Corps website.

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