Notre Dame earns spot on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings

Author: JP Shortall

As appeared in Peace Corps Chicago, February 18, 2015

For the fifteenth consecutive year, the University of Notre Dame has earned a spot on Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing midsized colleges and universities across the country. The school ranks at No. 24 with 13 alumni currently serving overseas as Peace Corps volunteers.

Since the agency was created in 1961, 878 Notre Dame graduates have made a difference as Peace Corps volunteers.

“The Peace Corps provides an indispensable opportunity for young people out of college to put their unique skills to work making a difference for communities around the world,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Volunteers make lasting change by living and working at the grassroots level in their communities of service and using their talents to tackle some of the most critical challenges in international development.”

Notre Dame alum Marilyn Blasingame of Belvidere, Ill., began serving as a Peace Corps health volunteer in Mongolia in June 2013. In addition to her community health projects, she runs an English club and tutors young professionals in English. At Notre Dame, Blasingame worked at the Center for Social Concerns and twice participated in the Summer Service Learning Program.

“Notre Dame’s focus on service learning was one of the reasons that I chose to attend Notre Dame and also why I pursued my interest in the Peace Corps,” said Blasingame, who graduated in 2012 with a degree in biology and Russian language and literature.

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.

One other Indiana school earned recognition. Indiana University Bloomington ranks No. 20 among large universities with 36 alumni volunteers.

Service in the Peace Corps is a life-defining, hands-on leadership experience that offers volunteers the opportunity to travel to the farthest corners of the world and work on sustainable development projects in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development.

Volunteers return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, language, teaching, and community development skills that position them well for advanced education and professional opportunities in a 21st-century job market.

This year’s rankings follow historic reforms to Peace Corps’ application and selection process, led by Hessler-Radelet, that resulted in a 22-year application high for the agency in 2014. Through a one-hour online application, applicants can now choose the countries and programs 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 2015.

Peace Corps recruiter Meghan Costello, a returned volunteer who served in Rwanda and a Notre Dame graduate, advises Notre Dame candidates and can be reached at mcostello@peacecorps.gov.

Approximately 120 Indiana residents are currently serving in the Peace Corps. Overall, 3,239 Indiana 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 tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address 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, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.