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Saint Michael’s rank jumps for Peace Corps volunteers

02.18.16
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With 10 graduates currently volunteering worldwide, Saint Michael’s College ranked No. 11 among small schools on the Peace Corps’ 2016 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, the agency announced Thursday. Saint Michael’s, which became an official Peace Corps Prep site last year, leapt up in the rankings, having held the No. 20 rank among small schools in 2016.

Alumni from more than 3,000 colleges and universities nationwide have served in the Peace Corps since the agency’s founding in 1961, including 191 from Saint Michael’s.

Dan Evans, coordinator of two Peace Corps programs at Saint Michael’s -- one for undergraduates and the other for graduate students -- said he was delighted to learn of the latest ranking. “Considering Saint Michael’s long-standing commitment to service and social justice, it should come as no surprise that we produce a fair number of Peace Corps volunteers,” he said. “I’ve been getting quite a number of inquiries and applications for the PC Prep Program, which just began last semester, and I expect this program to increase the number of volunteers from Saint Michael’s even more in the future.”

Vermont is the top Peace Corps volunteer-producing state in the nation on a per capita basis. Fifty-two (52) residents of the Green Mountain State are currently serving in the Peace Corps. Saint Michael’s is joined on the 2016 rankings of small schools by Middlebury College at No. 6. Additionally, the University of Vermont is ranked No. 6 among medium-sized schools. The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities annually according to the size of the student body.

“The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Today’s graduates understand the importance of intercultural understanding and are raising their hands in record numbers to take on the challenge of international service.”

Last year’s designation of Saint Michael’s as a Peace Corps Prep site has enriched the pool of high-quality applicants to the College, said Sarah Kelly, vice president for enrollment and marketing. “We have so many students who are putting down in their applications that they are interested in the Peace Corps,” Kelly said, “so being an official prep site clearly is helping attract students to our campus. And what better students to come to Saint Michael’s than those who already have that passion for serving and helping. They fit right in here.”

This year’s rankings follow a 40-year high in applications for the Peace Corps in 2015.  This record-breaking number of applicants comes after the first full year that the agency’s historic application and recruitment reforms have been in place. Applicants will now find a simplified, more personal application process, and can learn more by reaching out to the New York regional recruitment office at nyinfo@peacecorps.gov.

Last July, the Peace Corps announced the partnership designating Saint Michael’s an official Peace Corps Prep Site. Starting this current school year, the program offers students a unique combination of undergraduate coursework and community service that prepares them for a career in international development.

The Peace Corps has Peace Corps Prep program partnerships with nearly 50 leading academic institutions nationwide -- so Saint Michael’s is still among just a select group of schools in the U.S. providing this opportunity. Established in 2007, the program aims to support schools’ efforts to provide substantive, globally focused experiences for their students. Those who successfully complete the program make competitive Peace Corps applicants.

Saint Michael’s has offered a Peace Corps Master’s International Program since 2000, but that is a program designed for graduate students already accepted into the Peace Corps. Established in 1987, Master’s International is offered at more than 90 U.S. academic institutions and designed to equip Peace Corps volunteers with the education and skills to serve successfully abroad while helping students earn their advanced degree by allowing academic credit for their service. Master’s International prospects apply both to graduate school and the Peace Corps, and after completing campus coursework, travel to a country of service to start training, then service. The Master’s International degree program at Saint Michael’s and other sites also requires completion of a thesis-like culminating project, developed under the direction of faculty.  By contrast, the new Peace Corps Prep Program is designed for undergraduates and carries neither a thesis requirement nor any commitment to apply for Peace Corps service by students.

A press release from the agency about the latest rankings offers the following description:

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to address the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work with their community members at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions to challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow the Peace Corps on Facebook and Twitter.

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