UCSC ranks sixth for Peace Corps volunteers

UCSC has been ranked sixth among mid-sized institutions for the number of alumni in the Peace Corps in 2008, moving up two spots since last year on the organization's top-25 list of medium-sized schools producing volunteers.

Fifty Slug alumni are now serving in the Peace Corps. Since Peace Corps' inception, 638 UCSC alumni have joined the ranks, making it the no. 61 producer of volunteers of all time, according to data from the Peace Corps San Francisco Regional Office.

UCSC's high ranking doesn't surprise UCSC alumna Robin Smith, 27, of Santa Rosa, who will depart for Moldova in late February to begin her 27-month assignment as an agribusiness volunteer with the Peace Corps.

"My experience in Santa Cruz was that there are a lot of worldly people," said Smith. "Many of my classmates had traveled to other countries. And there's a lot of student activism and people working in volunteer organizations on campus."

Smith graduated in 2003 with a degree in politics and went on to earn a master's degree in political economy from the University College of London.

She wanted to join the Peace Corps because of her regional interest in Central Europe, "which was cultivated in large part by professors at UC Santa Cruz," she said.

For the purposes of the Peace Corps' ranking, small schools are those with less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-size schools have between 5,001 to 15,000 undergraduates, and large schools more than 15,000 undergraduates. The full 2008 Peace Corps Top College rankings are available on the organization's web site.

In the graduate school rankings, UCSC ranked no. 54 with four alumni with advanced degrees serving as volunteers.

There are 1,192 institutions of higher learning represented by Peace Corps volunteers serving in 74 countries overseas, according to Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter.

"The Peace Corps provides a unique opportunity for graduates to use their education and skills, and apply them in the real world," said Tschetter.

Overall, UC Berkeley has produced the most Peace Corps volunteers since 1961 with an all-time total of 3,326.

Several UC institutions--UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UCLA, and UC Davis--are in the top-25 Peace Corps ranking for large campuses.

This year, there are more than 8,000 volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where volunteers have served.

Informational meetings about the Peace Corps are held on campus throughout the year for those thinking about becoming volunteers. The next meetings will take place on Monday, February 4, and Monday, March 3, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Baobob Lounge at Merrill College.