UC Berkeley remains all-time top producer of Peace Corps volunteers

UC Berkeley philosophy graduate Mi-Hwa Saunders at the Peace Corps office in Oakland in 2011 before she served in the Cape Verde Islands off Africa.

UC Berkeley philosophy graduate Mi-Hwa Saunders at the Peace Corps office in Oakland in 2011 before she served in the Cape Verde Islands off Africa.

UC Berkeley, the all-time top producer of  Peace Corps volunteers since John F. Kennedy launched the program in 1961, continues to rank among the top 10 Peace Corps volunteer producers each year.

The 2015 rankings, released today (Wednesday, Feb. 18), place Berkeley at No. 7 among large universities, with 54 alumni currently volunteering around the world. The University of Washington ranked first with 72 alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps, followed by the University of Wisconsin with 69 volunteers and the University of Florida with 66.

“Every year the Peace Corps unveils the upper echelon of colleges and universities that have distinguished themselves at the top of its volunteer producing schools,” said Peace Corps West Coast Regional Manager Erin Carlson. “We take enormous pride in recognizing UC Berkeley as one of the 23 universities from the West Coast producing dedicated individuals who personify the Peace Corps mission of promoting world peace and friendship. We also congratulate the university for its Top Ten annual ranking for the past 13 years.”

Since the Peace Corps’ inception 54 years ago, 3,598 UC Berkeley graduates have served abroad as volunteers, more than have volunteered from any other university. Among the current batch is Amanda Bensel, a 2008 graduate in environmental design who is currently serving in Nepal.

“My education at UC Berkeley … taught me that there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to any problem,” Bensel said.  “Peace Corps service offers a chance to take your education beyond theory and into practice; the experience is deeply humbling. Working on the ground, deeply immersed in a community will expand your understanding of development 100-fold, enlighten your perspective on both another country and the United States, and force you to see your true strengths and weaknesses as a professional.”

In 2011, UC Berkeley celebrated the 50th anniversary of service in the Peace Corps, a government program originally intended to promote a better understanding between Americans and people from the developing world. Popular with college graduates, the Peace Corps offers the opportunity to travel overseas and learn about other cultures and perspectives, making a lasting difference on both the lives of volunteers and those they serve.

View the complete 2015 rankings of the top 25 schools here.