UCLA produced more Peace Corps volunteers in 2013 than any other college or university in California, according to annual rankings released Feb. 11 by the international service organization. The campus also retained its No. 6 spot among large schools nationwide for the fourth consecutive year, with 67 alumni currently volunteering around the world.
Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, 1,910 Bruin alumni have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers, making UCLA seventh among the all-time highest volunteer-producing schools.
"The University of California, Los Angeles, has ranked among the top colleges and universities producing volunteers for more than 10 years," said Janet Allen, the West Coast regional manager of the Peace Corps. "We applaud and thank UCLA for its continued commitment to developing globally minded individuals who answer the call to promote world peace and friendship."
UC Berkeley followed UCLA nationally this year, at No.7, with 66 volunteers. In total, six UC campuses were ranked on the list of the top 25 large universities. The complete 2014 rankings of the top 25 schools in each undergraduate category is available here.
The Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development.
UCLA and the Peace Corps share an important history. The first cohorts of volunteers were trained at the Westwood campus in the 1960s, and both the university and the corps have long been dedicated to creating a new generation of globally competent and service-minded individuals. (Watch a video about UCLA's historical connection to the Peace Corps, and read an article and watch a video highlighting UCLA's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in 2011.)
Genevieve Low, a graduate of UCLA, currently serves as an education volunteer in Mongolia. She attributes a significant part of her success in the Peace Corps to her time at UCLA.
"My major and chosen career path definitely helped prepare me for Peace Corps service," she said. "International Development is an interdepartmental major, which means I took advanced classes from several different departments: political science, history, anthropology, sociology. Taking these different types of classes has helped me adjust to life in Mongolia, in that I can look at things — culture, politics, economics — from different perspectives."
When volunteers return home, they bring with them knowledge and experiences that not only help to strengthen international ties but that increase the United States' global competitiveness.
"The same passion that launched the Peace Corps more than 50 years ago fuels progress in developing countries today thanks to the leadership and creativity that college graduates bring to their Peace Corps service," said Carrie Hessler-Radelet, acting director of the Peace Corps. "The unique Peace Corps experience helps recent graduates cultivate highly sought-after skills that will launch their careers in today's global economy."