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February 17, 2003

UCSC ranked sixth in Peace Corps participation

By Louise Donahue

UC Santa Cruz—with 40 graduates serving in 36 nations—has been ranked sixth among mid-sized institutions for the number of alumni in the Peace Corps in 2002.

Peace Corps volunteers work in a wide variety of fields. This volunteer, Vivian Colon, served as an English Teacher in Turkmenistan, in Central Asia. Photo courtesy Peace Corps

More than 500 UCSC graduates have served in the Peace Corps over the years, working in 107 different countries around the world.

"I think the fact that UCSC is ranked so high says a lot about the students—the caliber of their service and their interest in breaking down cultural barriers," said Dennis McMahon of the San Francisco office of the Peace Corps.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison ranked number one among the large schools, with 123 participants—the most volunteers overall. The top medium-size school was the University of Virginia, with 68 volunteers, and Tufts University was the highest-ranking small school, with 31 volunteers.

Among UC institutions, UC Santa Barbara was eighth (65 volunteers) and UC Berkeley was ninth (63 volunteers) in the large-school category. UCSC came in second in the UC system in volunteers per capita, based on undergraduate enrollment.

"For most people in the world, the first American they ever meet will be a Peace Corps volunteer," said Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez recently in announcing the rankings. "So it is particularly important for us to recognize those institutions that foster ideals of service and cultural understanding and encourage graduates to serve the cause of World Peace."

The Peace Corps considers small schools to be those with less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-size schools those with up to 15,000 undergraduates, and large schools those with more than 15,000 undergraduates.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS education, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

The majority of volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps over the past 42 years have been college graduates. Currently, 86 percent of the volunteers have an undergraduate degree and 12 percent have graduate degrees or have studied at the graduate level.

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