The University of California, Santa Barbara moved up the national ranking of colleges and universities that have students serve in the Peace Corps. Rising from number 22 in 2011, UCSB is now ranked 16 among all large universities in the nation, with 70 alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. For universities that have sent the largest number of students to serve in the Peace Corps since its beginning, UCSB is ranked 12 with 1,564 alumni having served the organization.
Currently, the UCSB alumni are serving in 36 countries and are working in the areas of agriculture, business, environmental preservation, health application and education, and youth development.
“We have a longstanding relationship with UCSB,” said Kanani Moriarty, Regional Representative for the Los Angeles branch of the Peace Corp. “Many talented, successful students have begun their careers with Peace Corps! Each of these individuals is representing UCSB and making a change in another community. They are also bringing these skills home, as global citizens who are helping to create the 21 century workforce.”
UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang said UCSB student involvement in the Peace Corps reflects on the values students at the university hold dear.
“We take great pride in our UC Santa Barbara alumni who volunteer to serve in the Peace Corps,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “Their dedication, hard work, and selfless service are a wonderful example of how UCSB students and alumni help improve the quality of life for people around the world. Our campus has long supported the ideals, values, and activities of the Peace Corps. 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.”
The Peace Corps began in 1960 when Senator John F. Kennedy challenged the students at the University of Michigan to serve the U.S. and promote peace and understanding by serving in impoverished countries. Since its inception, over 210,000 volunteers have served in 139 countries to work on projects ranging from AIDS education to environmental preservation.
Aaron S. Williams, director of the Peace Corps, said the university environment in particular readies volunteers for the challenges they’ll face while serving.
“Colleges and universities prepare thousands of talented undergraduate and graduate alumni for Peace Corps service every year,” said Williams. “These alumni go on to serve as Peace Corps volunteers, applying the skills and knowledge they acquired during their studies to promote world peace and friendship, and improve the lives of people around the world. I would like to extend my gratitude to all colleges and universities for their continued support of the Peace Corps and public service.”
Stephanie Gaffney, a 2011 UCSB graduate who recently completed her training in Tanzania, spent her time in the Peace Corps working on environmental education and sustainable agriculture projects to help the local community thrive. Gaffney said her experience serving there has only increased her desire to continue helping others.
“My education at UCSB and various volunteer internships,” said Gaffney, “have fueled my continued desire to teach and serve others.”
“I would highly recommend Peace Corps for all these reasons,” said Moriarty, “the opportunity to positively impact a community and the growth in the personal life of a volunteer. I served as a Peace Corps volunteer myself, from 2009 to 2011 in the Federated States of Micronesia. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but also an incredible opportunity to build relationships, do something positive for others, and grow as a person. It was a life changing experience that has marked me indelibly and changed the course of my life. Not only that, but it has helped me launch my career.”
Moriarty will by leading a Peace Corp information event on Feb. 27 in front of Career Service building to educate students on Peace Corps and volunteering.