March 2, 2010

U of C continues decade of top Peace Corps enrollment

The University is one of the top producers of Peace Corps volunteers for the tenth consecutive year, the group announced last month. Thirty alumni currently serve in the Peace Corps.

In 2008 and 2009, the University ranked first for number of volunteers among small colleges and universities. Since its undergraduate student body has exceeded 5,000, it is now classified as a medium-sized college; it is ranked eighth in this new division.

The University has been one of the top schools in its category since the ranking system began ten years ago. Since the founding of the Peace Corps in 1967, 694 alumni have volunteered.

“Chicago graduates are so well prepared that they can hit the ground running,” said Dillan Siegler, director of the Chicago Careers in Public and Social Service program.

Christine Torres, public affairs specialist for the Peace Corps’s Chicago regional office, said students usually acquire volunteer, language, and international experience during their undergraduate years, making them “both more competitive applicants for the Peace Corps and productive volunteers.”

David Pi (A.B. ’06) currently serves in the Peace Corps, teaching English in Romania since May 2008. He agreed that the University’s environment fosters a commitment to social service. “Students at Chicago are less concerned with careerism and material success than they are with enriching their lives through experience. The academics at Chicago nurture this inclination,” Pi said.

Many University graduates meet the requirements for education and English teaching assignments, Torres said, calling it “one of the greatest program needs across the developing world.”

The 2009 dean’s survey of entering and returning students showed 30 percent of students in the College were interested in careers in the public and service sectors. “Students at the University of Chicago have repeatedly proven themselves to be as committed to service as they are committed to academic excellence,” Torres said.