WWU tops Peace Corps list of top medium colleges

UW, Gonzaga also No. 1 in their categories; first time all No. 1 schools on Peace Corps Top Colleges from same state

Western Washington University is No. 1 on the Peace Corps 2013 Top Colleges rankings among medium schools with 73 undergraduate alumni currently serving. This is the first time WWU has ranked No. 1 on the list.

“Every year, graduates of colleges and universities across the United States are making a difference in communities overseas through Peace Corps service,” said Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “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.”

Hessler-Radelet will join Western President Bruce Shepard in celebrating Western’s participation in the Peace Corps from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. today, Feb. 5, in Academic Instructional Center West Room 204. The gravel lot on the south end of campus offers free parking at this time and the community is encouraged to attend. This community event brings together faculty, students and alumni to acknowledge Western’s contributions to Peace Corps service.

Historically, 885 WWU alumni have served as Peace Corps volunteers since the agency was founded in 1961.

“This Peace Corps ranking is a tremendous honor and a demonstration of the strong commitment by our alumni in service to others,” said Western President Bruce Shepard. “One of the things I hear most often about our students is that they come to Western wanting to lead a purposed life. With so many Western alumni serving in the Peace Corps and other forms of public service, it is obvious that they are committed to doing just that. Western looks forward to sending the Peace Corps many more of our students’ active minds to change lives around the world.”

University of Washington (UW) and Gonzaga University also rank No. 1 on the Peace Corps 2013 Top Colleges rankings in the large and small school categories with 107 and 24 undergraduate alumni serving, respectively.

This is the fifth time UW has been No. 1 and the first time Gonzaga has been No. 1. Also, it’s all the first time all the No. 1 schools in the three categories hail from the same state.

"Peace Corps announces Top Colleges annually to recognize the schools that contribute the most alumni who are making a difference overseas through volunteer service," said Peace Corps West Coast Regional Manager Janet Allen. "Having Washington state be the home to all three No. 1 schools is a coup of which I'm especially proud. We thank and congratulate University of Washington, Western Washington University and Gonzaga University for producing globally-minded leaders who turn idealism into action as Peace Corps Volunteers.”

Five other universities in Washington also made the Peace Corps 2013 Top Colleges rankings, all in the small school category: Seattle University (No. 5, 19 alumni currently serving), University of Puget Sound (No. 8, 18 alumni), Evergreen State College (No. 8, 16 alumni), Whitman College (No. 8, 16 alumni), Pacific Lutheran University (No. 18, 15 alumni).

This is the first time Pacific Lutheran University has made the list and the first time Seattle University has broken into the top five.

Currently, more than 8,000 volunteers are working with communities in 76 host countries on projects related to agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development.

Click here for a full list of the Peace Corps 2013 Top Colleges.

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. 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 encouraged to apply for service one year in advance of their target departure date. The next application deadline is February 28, 2013.

The Peace Corps ranks Top Colleges annually according to the size of the student body. Small schools have less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-sized schools have between 5,000 and 15,000 undergraduates and large schools have more than 15,000 undergraduates. Rankings are calculated based on fiscal year 2012 data as of September 30, 2012 as self-reported by Peace Corps volunteers.

The following are the top five colleges and universities in each undergraduate category and the number of undergraduate alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers:

1. University of Washington 107
1. University of Florida 107
3. University of Wisconsin-Madison 103
4. University of Colorado Boulder 93
4. University of Michigan 93

1. Western Washington University 73
2. American University 55
3. The George Washington University 53
4. Cornell University 40
5. The University of Vermont 37

1. Gonzaga University 24
2. St. Olaf College 22
3. University of Mary Washington 21
4. Oberlin College & Conservatory 20
5. Seattle University 19

Upcoming events: In addition to today's recognition ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in AW Room 204, a Peace Corps “Around the World” Fair will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Miller Hall Collaborative Space. Returned Peace Corps volunteers will be available to answer questions, share their stories, photos and mementos with tables representing many different countries of service. “This is a great opportunity for students to get a taste of the Peace Corps from so many different countries in one place,” says Susan Anderson, a returned Peace Corps volunteer and WWU career counselor.

About the Career Services Center: Western’s Career Services Center has a long and well-established partnership with the Peace Corps. For more than 30 years, the center has had a designated Peace Corps campus representative available to students, graduates and community members who are interested in pursuing opportunities in service abroad. The Peace Corps representative answers general questions, offers application assistance and conducts interviews of qualified candidates. Because there is strong interest in international careers and internships at Western, the Career Services Center also co-hosts the annual International Opportunities Fair, brings international employers to campus and organizes presentations by U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service. For more information contact 360-650-3240 or visit the WWU Career Services Center website at www.wwu.edu/careers.


About the Peace Corps: 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 service is a 27-month commitment and the agency’s mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.