For the first time in its history, the University of Colorado Boulder is ranked No. 1 in the nation for graduates serving as Peace Corps volunteers this year with 117 undergraduate alumni currently serving around the world, the Peace Corps announced Tuesday, Feb. 1.
CU-Boulder was ranked No. 2 last year and in 2009, and is ranked the No. 5 all-time school for volunteers with 2,269 alumni who have served in the Peace Corps since it was established in 1961.
"I am delighted that our emphasis on civic engagement as part of the learning experience at CU-Boulder has resulted in service-oriented graduates contributing to their global community," said Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "Service-learning and civically engaged graduates are a cornerstone of our Flagship 2030 strategic plan and it is gratifying for the university community to realize that our vision is becoming a reality."
The University of Florida ranked No. 2 for large schools this year with 97 undergraduate alumni serving. Also placing in the top five were the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington.
Each year, more than 13,000 CU-Boulder students participate in some form of community service, according to Peter Simons, director of CU-Boulder's Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement.
"We have traditionally attracted students who have a desire to be engaged in communities locally and overseas," Simons said. "The combination of these students and our emphasis on civic engagement really fosters an environment where a good number of our graduates join the Peace Corps every year."
The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing schools annually according to the size of the student body. Large schools have more than 15,000 undergraduates, medium-size schools have between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates, and small schools have fewer than 5,000 undergraduates. George Washington University ranked first among medium-size schools with 72 undergraduate alumni currently serving and the University of Mary Washington ranked highest among small schools with 32 undergraduate alumni serving.
"For the last 50 years, colleges and universities across our country have been an integral part of the Peace Corps family, from developing young leaders to hosting trainings and teaching the importance of lifelong learning," said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. "In 1961, President Kennedy created the Peace Corps in response to the passion of university students, and today we continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm, dedication and creativity of the thousands of Americans now serving overseas. Colleges instill a commitment to public service among their students and share our belief that, together, we can work to make the world a better place."
When asked how CU-Boulder has prepared her for the Peace Corps, Chelsea Komlo, a senior majoring in anthropology and philosophy, said her opportunities to work as a leader and learn about leadership on campus really helped give her the confidence to tackle her next challenge as a Peace Corps volunteer. Komlo was part of the university's Presidents Leadership Class, where she learned about best leadership practices. She also held leadership roles in several other student groups and efforts on campus.
"I think being involved in several leadership roles here at CU-Boulder has made me realize how much I have to offer, and I hope to use my leadership experience when I travel to Africa," said Komlo, who recently was accepted into the Peace Corps and will travel to Africa later this year after graduation. While she hasn't been assigned to a specific country yet, she most likely will be working in health education.
Last December, CU-Boulder also became part of the Peace Corps' Master's International program, which allows volunteers to combine Peace Corps service with a master's degree program and receive credit for their Peace Corps service abroad.
Each year since 2004, CU-Boulder has ranked in the top three schools in the nation for Peace Corps volunteers – three times as the No. 2 school and four times at No. 3.
To read first-person accounts from CU-Boulder alumni and Peace Corps volunteers visithttp://www.colorado.edu/news/reports/peacecorps2011/. To watch a video on CU-Boulder's connection to the Peace Corps visit http://www.colorado.edu/news.
For more information about the Peace Corps, call the campus recruiting office at 303-492-8454 or visithttp://www.colorado.edu/iece/peacecorps/.