University increases number of volunteers

Number of graduates who serve in Peace Corps ranks 10th for large universities

The University ranked 10th among large-sized universities for producing the most Peace Corps volunteers last year. This year is the first one during which the University has been grouped with large- rather than medium-sized universities, in which it would have again placed No. 1, according to a University press release.

Sixty-four University alumni currently serve around the world, compared to 62 during the previous year, according to the Peace Corps. The University of Washington placed first on the list of large-sized universities, with 101 alumni as volunteers.

Pat Lampkin, the vice president for student affairs, said this high level of participation exists among University graduates because incoming students value public service and because the University is an environment that nurtures this spirit of altruism.

For example, many students volunteer in the local community, while others create service-oriented organizations, including the ones developed in response to the Haiti earthquake. These activities show that University students are deeply committed to service, Lampkin said.

"They're individuals of integrity and they assist others, so it's a very great set of values to have among our students," she said.

The University also has made "strong initiatives" in public service, she said, pointing to the public-service advisory board. The Jefferson Public Citizens program is another example, as it enables students and faculty to combine research and service. These initiatives were established at student request and with faculty support, and they have been growing stronger during the last three to five years, Lampkin said.

"When you have those types of programs, then you tend to attract individuals who are interested in [service], or you develop [an interest in service among students] while they're here," she said.\nLampkin also noted the University's increasingly global nature as a factor in the large number of alumni involved with the Peace Corps. Study abroad participation has particularly increased during the past three to five years, she said, and interest in global service has grown as a result.

"I think it's the merging of the service, as well as the international and global efforts," she said.

Interim Madison House Director Elizabeth Bass also said the University - and particularly Madison House - provide a foundation for students who later go on to the Peace Corps. The University's program provides students with the opportunity to serve locally and embrace a spirit of leadership and service, Bass said.

"They take what they learned here at U.Va, and they are able to really make an impact when they're serving in their new communities, which are all over the world."

Although Bass has not kept exact records on Madison House alumni involvement in the Peace Corps, she said she knows that at least two or three former members of the organization usually apply each year. There are at least a half-dozen Madison House alumni who are currently serving, she added.

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