University News

Fewer alums volunteer for Peace Corps

U. fails to crack list of top 25 medium-sized colleges sending graduates into Peace Corps

By
Staff Writer
Friday, February 21, 2014

Following a decade of ranking among the top 25 medium-sized colleges and universities sending graduates to the Peace Corps, the University failed to make the list for a second consecutive year.

There are 11 Brown alums currently serving in the Peace Corps, wrote Elizabeth Chamberlain, public affairs specialist for the Peace Corps Northeast Regional Office, in an email to The Herald. This number marks a drop from last year, when 21 Brown alums served in the program — one student short of making the list.

In order to be nationally ranked in 2014, the University would have needed 17 participating alums, Chamberlain wrote.

With roughly 6,000 undergraduates, Brown falls on the smaller side of the medium-sized colleges and universities group, which is defined as any institution with 5,000 to 15,000 undergraduates.

All colleges experience fluctuations year to year in volunteer numbers, said Kathryn Fidler, regional recruiter for the Peace Corps. She added that there has not been any noticeable decline in interest.

The Peace Corps is still an “attractive” option for graduates, Fidler said, adding that the program “offers two years of entry-level international experience, and you don’t have to pay in order to do it.”

The program attracts students interested in pursuing international work directly after their undergraduate studies, said Jim Amspacher, advisor for careers in the common good at CareerLAB.

The Peace Corps “opens many doors” and is a “leaping-off point to do a wide range of work,” Amspacher said.

“Brown draws people that are internationally focused,” said Caroline Klein ’05, who volunteered in community work with the Peace Corps in Moldova starting in 2005. “Peace Corps gave me the opportunity to understand cultures from an on-the-ground perspective,” she said.

The application process was not challenging, Klein said, adding that she was surprised by the speed of the process. Her Peace Corps experience helped her gain confidence and taught her life and business skills, she said, adding that most volunteers learn more about themselves than they do about making substantial changes abroad.

Chamberlain wrote that 634 Brown alums have served overseas in the Peace Corps since 1961. Current volunteers are hosted in Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Madagascar, Panama, Paraguay, Rwanda and Senegal, and are working in the agriculture, education, environment and health sectors, she added.