By Shelby Spees
Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
University of California Santa Barbara has attained status as one of the top universities in the United States that send alumni to the Peace Corps. The school was ranked number 16 on the Peace Corp’s official list.
Quoted in a press release was UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang, who expressed his pride regarding the commitment of UCSB students to the Peace Corps cause.
“Our campus has long supported the ideals, values, and activities of the Peace Corps,” said Yang. “The fact that so many of our former students serve each year is a reflection of their commitment to serve our country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries.”
There are 70 UCSB alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps, located in 36 of the 75 countries where Peace Corps members serve.
The Peace Corps is currently in its 51st year and is ranked as a top ideal employer for humanities and liberal arts students as well as students in the natural sciences, making number five on both lists. According to the March 23, 2011 article from the Peace Corps press office, the Corps was also considered a top employer when young professionals were asked, ranking number 11. This survey was conducted with 10,000 young professionals and 56,900 college students from 345 leading universities.
Founded on March 1, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps promotes cross-cultural understanding while providing trained American workers to countries around the world. Opportunities in the Peace Corps range from jobs in education, youth and community development, agriculture, and the environment to health care, business, and information/communication technology. According to the Peace Corps website, a successful volunteer is flexible, independent and resourceful on top of being a responsible and professional hard worker. Knowing foreign languages and having leadership or community experience are pluses.
Applying for the Peace Corps is a multi-step process, requiring an initial information sheet submitted online as well as a full-length online application. Applicants must also submit three references, employment and volunteer history, two essays, educational history including transcripts and complete financial information.
Students who have studied abroad through the Education Abroad Program may find another international opportunity enticing.
“It’s a great way to see more of the world,” fourth-year psychology major and Spanish minor Melanie Guevara, who studied abroad in Granada, Spain during her junior year, said.
Students with international experience may have an advantage, but those without should not be discouraged, since an application can be strong in other ways.
For UCSB students who cannot decide between the Peace Corps and graduate school, there are several programs that allow students to apply their Peace Corps experience to graduate school. The Master’s International program allows students currently attending a participating graduate school to gain academic credit abroad while volunteering. If a student joins the Corps before graduate school, the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program offers financial aid to returning volunteers applying to a participating graduate school.
To learn more about the Peace Corps and begin the application process, visit www.peacecorps.gov.