For the fourth year in a row, Colorado State University ranks in the top 10 on the Peace Corps’ annual list of Top Volunteer-Producing College and Universities. The list, announced this week, places CSU at No. 10 among large American colleges and universities. The number of CSU alumni serving in the Peace Corps rose from 54 in 2017 to an all-time high 58 in 2018.
“CSU’s strong connection to the Peace Corps is an example of our commitment to our land-grant heritage,” CSU President Tony Frank said. “We are proud to be among the top 10 universities producing Peace Corps volunteers, and we are especially proud of the impact our graduates are making on the state of Colorado, the United States and the world.”
Since its creation in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has been sending Americans with a passion for service abroad to work with international communities and create lasting change. CSU researchers Pauline Birky-Kreutzer and Maurice Albertson published a feasibility study that helped lead to the creation of the international development organization, and since then, 1,699 alumni from CSU have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers. CSU ranks No. 11 among all-time top volunteer-producing schools.
“Colorado State University’s internationalized curriculum offers our students a broad range of opportunities to develop global perspectives,” said Jim Cooney, vice provost for international affairs. “We are proud that our globally minded graduates are choosing valuable opportunities like the Peace Corps as a demonstration of their commitment to global citizenship.”
Service in Nicaragua
Among the Rams currently serving in the Peace Corps is alumnus Matt Donovan (’15), a Community Health Promoter in Nicaragua. As a student, Donovan double-majored in biological science and Spanish, and participated in the UADY Leadership exchange between CSU and the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico.
“Every day I draw on the knowledge I gained at CSU, whether I’m teaching boys about gender equity, working with parents on having ‘the talk’ with their teenagers, or holding outdoor science classes for elementary students interested in STEM,” Donovan said. “The opportunities I found at CSU prepared me to be a leader in my host community as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Anyone considering Peace Corps service will find themselves surrounded by a community of returned volunteers happy to share their experiences. The past two years have been the most beautiful and most difficult years of my life, and I’ll never forget the friends I’ve made and the moments we’ve shared.”
The top three
For the second year in a row, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Washington and University of Minnesota hold the top three rankings among large college and universities, defined as those with enrollments of more than 15,000 undergraduate students.
Two other Colorado schools also appear on this year’s top colleges list – the University of Colorado Boulder ranks 11th among large schools, and the University of Denver ranks 5th among graduate schools. The complete 2017 rankings of the top 25 schools in each category can be found on the Peace Corps website, along with an interactive map that shows where alumni from each college and university are serving.
‘Making an impact’
“Peace Corps service is a profound expression of the idealism and civic engagement that colleges and universities across the country inspire in their alumni,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley. “As Peace Corps volunteers, recent college and university graduates foster capacity and self-reliance at the grassroots level, making an impact in communities around the world. When they return to the United States, they have new, highly sought-after skills and an enterprising spirit that further leverages their education and strengthens their communities back home.”
CSU is host to a Peace Corps team, housed within the Office of International Programs, including two graduate students and returned volunteers who serve as on-campus Peace Corps recruiters, as well as Peace Corps Campus Ambassadors, undergraduate students who want to serve in the Peace Corps.