Grinnell College has once again earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, coming in at No. 23 among small universities. Currently, eight Grinnell graduates are making a difference around the world as volunteers.
For the past four consecutive years, Grinnell has made it onto the annual list. Since the agency was created in 1961, 375 Grinnell alums have served overseas.
"The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world," Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. "Today’s graduates understand the importance of intercultural understanding and are raising their hands in record numbers to take on the challenge of international service."
Grinnellian Justin Miller ’12 is making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer. Miller has been serving in Burkina Faso as an education volunteer since August 2014. Miller works primarily as a high school math and English teacher at local schools. Additionally, Miller is working on recording public service announcements on nutrition and sexual education topics, and will distribute the recordings to his community through Bluetooth.
For Miller, the best part about serving as an education volunteer is getting to know his students personally and teaching them American games. Looking back, it was his passion for service and trying new things that led him to Peace Corps.
"Professor Terri Geller at Grinnell once told me, ‘If you aren't doing anything to help, you're saying that you're OK with how things are.’ There’s a lot of injustice in the U.S. and the world as a whole," said Miller, who graduated with a B.A. in mathematics. "The school's strong social justice environment pushed me to try to help people."
This year’s rankings follow a 40-year high in applications for the Peace Corps in 2015. This record-breaking number comes after the first full year that the agency implemented historic reforms allowing applicants to choose the countries and assignments they'd like to be considered for. Graduating college students are encouraged to browse open programs and apply by April 1 for assignments departing fall 2016.
Iowa-based Peace Corps recruiter Ryan Cairns, a returned volunteer who served in Bulgaria, advises Grinnell candidates. Students who are interested in post-graduate service are encouraged to meet with Keira Wilson, assistant director of service and social innovation, in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. Visit Peace Corp Events to learn of in-person and online opportunities to chat with a recruiter.
About the Peace Corps
The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to address the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work with their community members at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions to challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development.
Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy.
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.