(Adapted from a Peace Corps, Midwest Regional Office, news release)
February 18, 2016
For the 16th consecutive year, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has earned a spot on Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, the agency announced today. Currently, 35 Illinois alumni are serving as Peace Corps volunteers, putting the university at No. 16 on the 2016 list, up four spots from last year.
The University of Illinois is the No. 7 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers, with 2,026 graduates having served since the agency was created in 1961.
“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.”
One Illinois alum who made a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer is Hilary Antosh, 30, who served in The Gambia as an agriculture and environment volunteer from 2011-13. Antosh, of Park Ridge, Ill., worked with a non-governmental organization on an animal husbandry project, as well as beekeeping, gardening and tutoring. Antosh says her experience at Illinois helped put her on the path to Peace Corps.
“I was involved with Alternative Spring Break and went on a few of their trips to different parts of the country,” said the 2007 Illinois graduate. “This allowed me the opportunity to volunteer in places far from home.”
Two other Illinois schools also received recognition. The University of Chicago ranks No. 25 among medium schools, with 13 alumni volunteers. On the small schools list, Knox College placed 14th and has nine graduates in service.
Nationally, the University of Washington in Seattle pulled in the highest number of volunteers with 72 graduates currently serving in the Peace Corps. You can view the entire top 25 rankings for each school size category here.
This year’s rankings follow a 40-year high in applications for the Peace Corps in 2015. This record-breaking number comes after the first full year that the agency implemented historic reforms allowing applicants to choose the countries and assignments they’d like to be considered for. Graduating college students are encouraged to browse open programs and apply by April 1 for assignments departing fall 2016.
Peace Corps works with the University of Illinois to host an on-campus recruiter who shares his personal experience as a volunteer and provides information about applying for service. Rob Sarwark, who served in Cape Verde, can be reached at 217-333-0203 or email@example.com. Anyone interested in learning more can join the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UIUCPeaceCorps, drop by office hours or attend a public Peace Corps event this semester.
Currently, 278 Illinois residents are serving in Peace Corps. Overall, 8,606 Illinois residents have served since the agency was created in 1961.
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 us on Facebook and Twitter.