UC Santa Cruz earns spot on 2011 Peace Corps Top Colleges rankings

Banana Slugs rank 6th for Peace Corps; Santa Cruz ranked as state's top-producing metro area per capita for Peace Corps volunteers

UC Santa Cruz ranks 6th on Peace Corps's 2011 rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities (medium-size schools category).

For 2011, Peace Corps's 50th anniversary year, there are 51 UCSC undergraduate alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers. This is an increase from last year, when 46 UCSC alumni were in service.

"In 1961, President Kennedy created the Peace Corps in response to the passion of university students, and today we continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm, dedication, and creativity of the thousands of Americans now serving overseas," said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. "Colleges instill a commitment to public service among their students and share our belief that, together, we can work to make the world a better place."

Melissa Ng of San Jose is the next to join this Banana Slug tradition of service. The 2009 UCSC grad departs in March to begin a Peace Corps assignment in Belize. She will serve 27 months as an advisor to nongovernmental organizations in the Central American country.

"The majority of the students are motivated to make a change," Ng says of UC Santa Cruz. "They're passionate about making a change." 

In addition to the top colleges ranking, Santa Cruz recently ranked as California's top-producing metropolitan area per capita for Peace Corps volunteers. More Peace Corps volunteers come from California than any other state.

Last year, UCSC ranked No. 21 on the Peace Corps Top Colleges list after debuting that year in the large university category (more than 15,000 undergrads). This year, UCSC was re-classified as a mid-size school.

University of California Schools in the 2011 rankings:

Large universities (more than 15,000 undergraduates)
#6 (tie) UC Berkeley and UCLA--each with 92 alumni serving
#14 UCSD--with 67 alumni serving
#16 UC Davis--with 66 alumni serving
#22 UC Santa Barbara--with 55 alumni serving

Medium universities (between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates)
#6 UC Santa Cruz--with 51 alumni serving

In this year's college rankings, the University of Colorado at Boulder outpaced other universities to claim the top spot, with 117 alumni serving. Prior to 2011, the University of Washington held the top position for four consecutive years. Historically, UC Berkeley maintains the number one all-time rank, with 3,457 Peace Corps volunteer alumni since 1961. See the full 2011 college rankings.

Rankings are calculated based on fiscal year 2010 data as of September 30, 2010, as self-reported by Peace Corps volunteers.

Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age. There is no upper age limit. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.