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Many Take Path From Northwestern to Peace Corps

Northwestern ranks 18th on the Peace Corps’ “Top Colleges” list

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February 7, 2013 | by Emily Osborne

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Twenty-three Northwestern University graduates currently serve in the Peace Corps, marking the 13th consecutive year that Northwestern has landed among the Corps’ annual list of top volunteer producers.

Northwestern ranks 18th among midsized colleges and universities (student populations between 5,000 and 15,000) for the number of alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, 924 Northwestern graduates have served as volunteers.

“Every year that we work with Northwestern, we are impressed with the students’ professionalism, interest in global issues and experience with volunteer activities both abroad and in the U.S,” said Northwestern alumna Jessica Mayle, midwest recruiting officer and a returned volunteer who served in Gambia.

Northwestern Alumni are serving in 17 countries, including Cambodia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Swaziland and Ukraine. Peace Corps volunteers serve in more than 75 countries throughout Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Peace Corps volunteers spend 27 months assisting communities overseas in six different disciplines – education; youth and community development; health; business and information; and communications technology, agriculture, and environment.

“Northwestern students want personal experience with other cultures and the issues people face around the world,” Mayle said. “They also want a hand in finding solutions, and the Peace Corps offers them an opportunity to do that.”  

Acting Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, who served as a volunteer in Western Samoa from 1981-83, referred to the depth of talent that the graduates bring to their Peace Corps experience. 

“As a result of the top-notch education they receive, these graduates are well prepared for the challenge of international service, “ Hessler-Radelet said. “They become leaders in their host communities and carry the spirit of service and leadership back with them when they return home.”

Graduating college students have until Feb. 28 to apply for remaining assignment openings in 2013 and the chance to be considered for programs in early 2014. 

Northwestern students interested in learning about Peace Corps opportunities are invited to stop by the Peace Corps table at the Northwestern Service Fair, from 12 to 4 p.m. April 9 at the Norris University Center. Jessica Wilt, a returned volunteer who served in Niger, will host the table. 

President John F. Kennedy launched the Peace Corps to spearhead progress in developing countries and promote friendship between the American people and other men, women and children throughout the world. There are more than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers working in 76 host countries.