Northwestern in top 25 for sending grads to Peace Corps for 13th year

Ally Mutnick, Assistant Campus Editor

With 23 graduates currently volunteering abroad, Northwestern is ranked 18th among the top 25 medium-size colleges and universities that have alumni serving in the Peace Corps, the organization announced Tuesday.

This is the 13th consecutive year NU has made the top 25 in its category with a school population between 5,000 and 15,000. Since the founding of the Peace Corps in 1961, almost 1,000 NU graduates have served as volunteers, according to Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Peace Corps acting director.

“Northwestern is a top college every year,” Hessler-Radelet said. “It has contributed stellar applicants with a strong international focus.”

Peace Corps volunteers spend 27 months serving overseas in a variety of different disciplines. Recent graduates have served in Micronesia, Panama, Kazakhstan and Cambodia working in secondary education, environmental health and community development.

Greg Cera, a NU graduate who later worked in the University’s Academic Advising Center, joined the Peace Corps in 2012 to work in community health in Cambodia. He said in the Peace Corps press release that his time at NU was an asset when he went to serve abroad.

“Northwestern helped prepare me for international service through the strong academic foundations it provided to me in my undergraduate major areas of history and political science,” he said in the release.

The Peace Corps releases statistics of schools that send the most volunteers each year. Western Washington University topped the medium category this year with 73 volunteers in the program, followed by American University and George Washington University.

The University of Washington and the University of Florida-Gainesville led the large universities category of more than 15,000 students, with 107 volunteers joining the corps from each school. Gonzaga University led the small colleges and universities category of less than 5,000 students, with 24 volunteers.

Hessler-Radelet said that in addition to consistently ranking in the top 25 in volunteers, NU graduates have contributed to the Peace Corps’ stateside endeavors. Jessica Mayle, an NU alumna who returned from serving in the Gambia last year, currently works in the public affairs office at the Peace Corps Chicago Regional Office.

She said that graduates find their volunteer experience rewarding once they return.

“They are prepared for the challenge of international service,” she said. “Many of our volunteers continue to make a difference here at home.”

— Ally Mutnick