January 26, 2004
Stanford students join Peace Corps in greater numbers
By Ray Delgado
Stanford, moving up one spot on the list of universities that send their graduates to the Peace Corps, placed ninth overall last year in the medium-size college category that includes many of its peer institutions, including Yale (No. 17) and Harvard (No. 22).
There are now 36 Stanford graduates serving in the Peace Corps, an increase of four students from the previous year. The only other California school that placed ahead of Stanford in the medium-size college category was the University of California-Santa Cruz, which placed fourth.
"In general, Stanford is a really good audience for the Peace Corps, and a number of students are drawn to us for various reasons," said Peace Corps spokesman Dennis McMahon. "I think that many students realize that Peace Corps experience can lead to interesting careers in world affairs."
The top university in the medium-size category (between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates) was the University of Virginia, with 75 volunteers, followed by Georgetown University with 66, Cornell University with 56, UC-Santa Cruz with 52, College of William and Mary with 51, Western Washington University with 48, George Washington University with 44 and James Madison University with 41.
McMahon said part of the reason for Stanford's strong showing in the rankings was that Peace Corps recruiters pay frequent visits to the campus to speak to students who are studying specific topics like agriculture, the environment, health and languages -- specialties that are in demand in the Peace Corps.
"The Peace Corps responds to specific requests from countries, and they ask for people with skills that will serve their development goals," McMahon said. "We are trying to respond to very specific needs expressed from other countries."
McMahon said the Peace Corps has programs in 75 countries around the world, the majority of which are in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Pacific. Volunteers typically spend 24 months in a given country, plus an additional three months of training prior to deployment.
Since its inception in 1961, the Peace Corps has attracted 1,277 Stanford graduates. Stanford ranks No. 12 on a list of colleges (regardless of student-population size) for the all-time number of corps volunteers it has yielded. The University of California-Berkeley ranks first on the all-time list, with 3,173 volunteers.
For more information about volunteering for the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorp.gov or call (800) 424-8580.