U of I alumni volunteers increase for Peace Corps

For the tenth year in a row, the U of I has placed on the Peace Corps’ top 25 list for large universities within the United States producing Peace Corps volunteers.

U of I alumni ranked No. 21 last year with 44 volunteers. The 54 alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers gave U of I the No. 19 ranking for 2010.

Since Peace Corps was founded in 1961, 1,886 UIUC alumni have served, making it the No. 7 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

The University of Chicago and Northwestern University were the other two Illinois universities to make the list, with 30 and 27 volunteers, respectively.

The University of Washington holds the top rank for large schools this year with 101 volunteer undergraduate alumni. George Washington University ranks number one for the medium school category, with 53 undergraduate alumni serving, while St. Olaf ranks number one for small schools, with 26 currently serving undergraduate alumni volunteers.

The category for each school is determined by 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.

There are currently 7,671 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 76 host countries around the world. While roughly 89 percent of the volunteers have earned at least an undergraduate degree, a college degree is not required.

Peace Corps programs require skills and experience in education, English teaching (ESL), youth and community development, public health and HIV/AIDS work, environment, agriculture and forestry, and business development and IT.

Over 15,000 applications were received in 2009, an 18 percent increase over 2008, and the largest number of applications since the agency began electronically recording applications in 1998.

On-campus recruiters provide information about Peace Corps and share personal experience as a Peace Corps volunteer. Ashlee McLaughlin is an on-campus recruiter and U of I graduate student who served in El Salvador. She can be reached at 217-333-0203 or [email protected], and anyone interested in learning more can attend one of her public Peace Corps Information Sessions this semester. The sessions will take place at the Career Center Multipurpose Conference Room on the first floor at 6 p.m. Feb. 17, March 4, and April 8.

Approximately 378 Illinois residents are serving in the Peace Corps, the third highest number among all states.

Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age, but there is no upper age limit to serve for the 27-month commitment.