University ranks as No. 2 Peace Corps-producing school
University also tops list of TFA-producing schools
The University was named the No. 2 Peace Corps volunteer-producing university in the nation Tuesday, with 44 alumni currently volunteering in the program.
The University has consistently been in the Peace Corps’ top rankings for recruitment — landing in the top 22 among large institutions in the previous two years.
Compared to many applicants, University students are “very ambitious, qualified already for the Peace Corps and prepared for service,” Peace Corps spokesperson Kelly Monterroso said.
Monterroso and others attributed the success University students find in the program to the core philosophy of their undergraduate experience.
“The spirit of self governance, the spirit of leadership and the public-spirited nature that Thomas Jefferson started are all things that go hand-in-hand with someone having an interest in something like the Peace Corps,” said Jill Rockwell, senior assistant dean for Batten Student and Career Services. “There’s a particular passion for equipping themselves with the tools that will allow them to then go back into the community and solve some of society’s most pressing problems.”
Monterroso said the Peace Corps also provides students with skills they can use in future careers or to further their education.
The Peace Corps looks for a “background in community service and an interest in making a difference,” Monterroso said. Students coming in with experience in a field such as education or health then “return from service with technical and leadership skills that help them in careers back at home.”
And while many students enter the Peace Corps as they leave the University, there is a significant number of students coming from the Peace Corps into the Master of Public Policy program in the Batten School, Rockwell said.
“I think [serving in the Peace Corps] is helpful in that it has solidified their interest in public service,” she said. “It also gives them first-hand knowledge about the societal issues that they want to address.”
The Batten School often pulls from a pool of Peace Corps alumni, even offering specific scholarships and financial aid to those who have volunteered in the program.
“We get a lot of people who go out and see these problems in the world and see how important it is to find solutions,” Rockwell said.
National volunteer programs have also historically recruited well from the University — especially Teach for America. In 2013, the University ranked ninth among large schools across the nation for student participation in TFA.
“I think the two things that really are unique to the University, in terms of preparing students to go into the corps, is first the fact that everybody here has an understand of really fantastic public education,” said fourth-year Batten student Michael Bock, the University’s Teach for America campus campaign coordinator. “The other piece is about the understanding that students get through our tradition of student self governance, for the need to play an active role when there are challenges facing a community as small as the University or as large as the United States.”
Overall, the University’s reputation of fostering a sense of student service goes a long way both for selection and for the candidates themselves, Monterroso said.
“Jefferson founded the University [on] a tradition of public service,” she said. “Students know the value of that.”