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Peace Corps Ranks U.Va. Among Nation’s Top 25 Volunteer-Producing Schools

Fifty-five undergraduate alumni of the University of Virginia are serving overseas with the Peace Corps, landing U.Va. among the nation’s top volunteer-producing schools for 2013.

The University, which moved up to the category of “large colleges and universities” last year based upon on- and off-Grounds undergraduate enrollment greater than 15,000, ranks No. 21, just behind Boston University (59 volunteers, nearly 30,000 students) and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (58 volunteers, nearly 52,000 students). The University of Washington topped the list with 107 volunteers.

Had U.Va. had been listed with “medium colleges and universities,” its former category, it would have been tied for No. 2 with American University.

The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing schools annually according to the size of the undergraduate student body. Small schools have less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-sized schools have between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates, and large schools have more than 15,000. The rankings are calculated based on fiscal year 2012 data as of Sept. 30, as self-reported by Peace Corps volunteers.

Since the inception of the Peace Corps in 1961, 1,079 U.Va. alumni have served, making it the 31st-highest volunteer-producing university of all time.

To see the full list of colleges and universities on the Peace Corps’ Top College list, visit the website here.

“Every year, graduates of colleges and universities across the United States are making a difference in communities overseas through Peace Corps service,” said Carrie Hessler-Radelet, the Peace Corps’ acting director. “As a result of the top-notch education they receive, these graduates are well-prepared for the challenge of international service. They become leaders in their host communities and carry the spirit of service and leadership back with them when they return home.”

Nora Phillips, who earned a B.A. in foreign affairs and environmental sciences from U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences in 2010, said her education prepared her well for her Peace Corps posting as an environment volunteer in Benin.

Her majors, she said, “gave me a good deal of theoretical knowledge about both ecological principles and development theory. At U.Va., I was also a student-athlete on the rowing team, which, oddly enough, I feel helped prepare me for my Peace Corps experience at least as much as my coursework. Rowing taught me how to pick myself back up after losses, learn from my mistakes instead of becoming discouraged, and most importantly, to just keep on working hard and finding ways to challenge myself.”

The Peace Corps encourages students to apply for the service, which requires a 27-month commitment, one year in advance of their targeted departure date; the next application deadline is Feb. 28.

Americans with backgrounds in agriculture, environment, teaching English as a second language and other technical or language skills related to Peace Corps assignment areas are especially in demand.

During Peace Corps service, college graduates make a difference in communities overseas. Volunteers return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community development skills that position them for advanced education and professional opportunities in today’s global job market. Ninety percent of volunteer positions require a bachelor's degree.

U.Va.’s own Peace Corps campus recruiter and returned Peace Corps volunteer, April Muñiz, will host a Peace Corps Information Session today from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Madison House Conference Room. Muñiz can be reached at 434-924-7011 or peacecorps@virginia.edu.

Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Today, 8,073 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for information.

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