UC Santa Cruz joins ranks of top large universities for Peace Corps

With 47 alumni in service, UC Santa Cruz ranks No. 21 on the annual list of "Peace Corps Top Colleges and Universities," released last week.

In 2009, the campus ranked No. 2 among mid-size universities, but because of increased enrollment, UC Santa Cruz debuts this year in the large university category (more than 15,000 undergrads). The campus maintains a rank despite being the smallest school in its category, with an enrollment of 15,125.

"We are proud that Banana Slugs entered our large school category this year and still came out among the top in the nation," said Janet Allen, manager of the Peace Corps San Francisco Recruitment Office.

"Santa Cruz students come to us highly qualified and passionate about serving others around the world," she added.

UCSC currently has alumni serving in 30 of the 76 countries where Peace Corps works. The highest concentration of Banana Slugs is in Paraguay, Zambia, Niger, and Panama.

This year's top-ranked schools (in the large, medium, and small categories) are the University of Washington, George Washington University, and St. Olaf College. Historically, UC Berkeley maintains the number one all-time rank, with 3,412 alumni who have served. You can view the entire top 25 rankings for each school size category online.

Martin Case (business management economics, '08) will soon join the Banana Slug tradition of service. Case departs June 1 to train for a two-year assignment in Cameroon. He will work in small business development.

Case says he is drawn to the Peace Corps to for a "grasp of the bigger picture of world economics through hands-on experience." An active member of his community, Case sang opera at UCSC and volunteers at Santa Cruz's Homeless Garden Project and the Resource Center for Nonviolence.

At the Feb. 23 Santa Cruz City Council meeting, Case will receive a proclamation declaring March 1-7 as Peace Corps Week in Santa Cruz. The proclamation recognizes the establishment of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, as well as the contributions of Californians to the cause of world peace and friendship.

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 76 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 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. To learn more about the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorps.gov.

Note to reporters: If you are interested in interviewing UCSC alumni serving in the Peace Corps, contact Nathan Hale Sargent at (510) 452-8446 or halesargent@peacecorps.gov.