Illinois reputation influences Peace Corps ranking

The University continues to have a strong international volunteer presence, ranking in the Peace Corps’ top 25 universities who produce volunteering alumni for the 12th year in a row.

Currently, the University is ranked 20th with a total of 65 alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers. Since the volunteer service was established in 1961, almost 2,000 University alumni have served, the seventh highest University since the Peace Corps started keeping alumni statistics twelve years ago.

“Even before we officially started doing these rankings, the Peace Corps office here in Chicago has been recruiting strongly at the University of Illinois for a number of reasons,” said Christine Torres, Peace Corps spokeswoman.

“The University has one of the best reputations in the world for education, and we want to be recruiting the best applicants to represent America overseas.”

She said the University’s focus on international relations, both in recruiting students and emphasis on global issues, is another reason why it is a top producer of volunteers. The Peace Corps aims to deal with international issues, so the international studies presence on campus is significant.

Ashley Lenihan, a 2009 alumna who is currently serving in Romania for the Peace Corps added to this sentiment in her volunteer profile.

“UIUC itself is a truly international campus. Students from other countries were a commonality rather than a rarity,” she said. “Such access to different cultures and viewpoints kept my mind open to ideas very different from my own. This has been a huge help in a successful Peace Corps service.”

Ashlee McLaughlin, graduate student and the University’s Peace Corps campus recruiter, said that some of the top programs here, such as agriculture, business and education, teach skills that presently are in high demand in the Peace Corps. Peace Corps is also in need of applicants with backgrounds in environment and teaching English as a second language, according to a newsletter.

For those interested in applying, there will be information sessions in the 1st floor conference room of the Career Center at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28, March 8 and April 5.