The University sends the third-most number of alumni to the Peace Corps, according to a University press release issued yesterday.
The Peace Corps annual rankings, which were released yesterday, show that 94 alumni who attended the University for undergraduate school are currently volunteering with the organization. The University tied for third place with the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill and the University of Washington, which also sent 94 volunteers.
The University of Colorado—Boulder and the University of Florida, which had 117 and 97 volunteers, respectively, came in first and second place, according to the press release.
For the number of graduate student alumni who joined the Peace Corps, the University of Michigan, along with George Washington University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, came in fourth with 15 volunteers. The University of Washington and the University of Florida topped the list with 21 and 20 students, respectively. Michigan State University came in third with 16 volunteers.
Bill Nolting, the assistant director of the Education Abroad program at the University’s International Center, praised the character of University volunteers.
“The statistics say a lot about the idealism and willingness to serve of University of Michigan students,” Nolting wrote in an e-mail interview. “It’s also a testimonial to the outstanding work done by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who staff our Peace Corps office, giving presentations, advising interested individuals and interviewing applicants as the first stage in the nominations process.”
This year’s RPCVs are University alumni Alexis Guild and Scott Burgess, Nolting said.
Guild, the coordinator at the University’s International Center’s Peace Corps Office, and Burgess, the recruiter at the ICPC Office, are both graduate students in the Ford School of Public Policy.
Guild said the rankings demonstrate University students’ desire to partake in community service.
“I think it really shows the willingness for students to serve both internationally and domestically,” Guild said. “It reinforces the strong connection the University of Michigan has with the Peace Corps.”
This past October, the University celebrated the Peace Corps’s 50th anniversary with an event at 2 a.m. on the steps of the Michigan Union. The event acted as a tribute to then-Senator John F. Kennedy’s announcement of his plans for the creation of the service organization on Oct. 4, 1960.
The report also ranked the universities that have contributed the most total alumni volunteers since the Peace Corps’s establishment.
The University came in fourth with a total 2,409, according to the press release. First place went to the University of California at Berkeley with 3,457 volunteers. The University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Washington took second and third places, respectively.
Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps and Kennedy’s brother-in-law, who passed away last month, previously praised University students for the success of the organization.
“It might still be just an idea but for the affirmative response of those Michigan students and faculty,” Shriver said. “Possibly Kennedy would have tried it once on some other occasion, but without a strong popular response he would have concluded the idea was impractical or premature.
“That probably would have ended it then and there. Instead it was almost a case of spontaneous combustion.”
Current Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams echoed Shriver’s sentiments in a Peace Corps press release after the rankings were announce.
“In 1961, President Kennedy created the Peace Corps in response to the passion of university students,” Williams wrote in the press release. “And today we continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm, dedication, and creativity of the thousands of Americans now serving overseas. Colleges instill a commitment to public service among their students and share our belief that, together, we can work to make the world a better place.”