UCLA and UC Berkeley produce more Peace Corps volunteers than any other major universities in California, according to the Peace Corps' newly released 2013 Top Colleges ranking.
Nationwide, the two schools shared the No. 6 spot among large colleges in the annual survey, which recognizes those schools with the highest number of currently serving alumni volunteers. Rankings are broken down into categories of small, medium, large and graduate institutions.
There are currently 85 undergraduate alumni from UCLA serving overseas in the Peace Corps.
"Every year, graduates of colleges and universities across the United States are making a difference in communities overseas through Peace Corps service," said Peace Corps acting director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. "As a result of the top-notch education they receive, these graduates are well prepared for the challenge of international service. They become leaders in their host communities and carry the spirit of service and leadership back with them when they return home."
UCLA retained its overall No. 6 ranking from last year, marking the third straight year the campus has been in the top 10 among large universities and the 11th consecutive year it has appeared in the top 25. To date, UCLA has produced 1,811 Peace Corps volunteers, the eighth most nationwide.
See the full list of the Peace Corps 2013 Top Colleges.
UCLA and the Peace Corps share an important history. The first cohorts of Peace Corps 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. In March 2011, UCLA held events celebrating the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary and the important role the university played during the early days of the agency.
In a letter to the community in honor of the 50th anniversary celebration, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block wrote: "In 1961, the Peace Corps ushered in a new era of national service — creating an army of volunteers committed to humanitarianism and global harmony. Fifty years later, Peace Corps volunteers continue to meet President John F. Kennedy's bold challenge to take an active role in the 'struggle against the common enemies ... of tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.' Service is one of UCLA's core values as a public university, and we are proud of our long-standing association with the Peace Corps."
(Watch a video about UCLA's 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.)
Currently, more than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers are working with communities in 76 host countries on projects related to agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development.
During Peace Corps service, college graduates make a difference in communities overseas. Volunteers return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community-development skills that position them for advanced education and professional opportunities in today's global job market. Ninety percent of the volunteer positions require a bachelor's degree.
Katy Todd, a UCLA alumna currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, said that taking courses on a range of subjects helped prepare her for Peace Corps service.
"I remember learning a lot of development theories," Todd said. "It was hard to put them into context at the time, but having that background knowledge really helped me understand the issues I came across in Togo and what method may best be used to approach some of those issues."
About the Peace Corps
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 210,000 Americans have served in 139 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. The agency's mission is to promote world peace and friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.