Charlottesville Ranks No. 1 Among Cities Supplying Peace Corps Volunteers

Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall at dusk.

Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall at dusk. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

Charlottesville is No. 1 among metropolitan areas with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita, according to new rankings announced Monday by the organization.

The Charlottesville metro area topped the list with 12.9 volunteers per 100,000 residents, vaulting to the top ranking after occupying the No. 2 spot last year. Currently, 26 Charlottesville residents serve as Peace Corps volunteers.

Virginia also earned high marks, ranking No. 3 among states with the most Peace Corps volunteers, below only California and New York. In all, 8,281 Virginians have served in the Peace Corps since its founding in 1961, and 364 are currently serving.

The latest data for universities and colleges will be published in February. In last year’s college rankings, the University of Virginia came it at No. 6, with 62 UVA alumni serving as volunteers around the world.

The UVA Career Center partners with the Peace Corps to help students learn more about volunteer opportunities and to support them through the application process. UVA is one of only two universities in Virginia to have a dedicated Peace Corps staff member available to meet with students and community members.

“My role is to inform, advise and guide students about and through the application process,” April Muñiz said.

“Students can meet one-on-one on a weekly basis with a returned Peace Corps volunteer for advice on fit for the program as well as support with their application materials,” said Dreama L. Montrief Johnson, associate director for the Career Center’s Public Service & Government Career Community and Global Careers.

“April’s work, along with that of past Peace Corps recruiters, has made this service opportunity more accessible to the UVA population and through this experience students learn what it means to be a global citizen and how that fits into their career,” Johnson said.

In the spring semester, Muñiz will hold open office hours for students interested in the Peace Corps, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, in the Career Center Express in Newcomb Hall. A Peace Corps Prep program, run by the International Studies Office, also helps students prepare for the application process through classes, service learning opportunities and professional development experiences.

Peace Corps volunteers live and work in countries around the world, serving for 27 months in fields including education, health care, environmental concerns, economic development, youth development and agriculture.

“Peace Corps service gives students the opportunity to broaden their multicultural awareness and international experience while challenging themselves personally and increasing their opportunities for post-service work,” Muñiz said.

Past UVA volunteers have taught English and mentored high school girls in Madagascar, organized English clubs for students in China, led community health efforts in Nicaragua, run nutrition programs, and promoted health care programs for women and children.

Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps, more than 235,000 Americans have served in 141 countries.