Georgetown University ranked ninth among medium-sized universities for the number of alumni joining the Peace Corps in 2018, the organization announced March 21.
With 27 undergraduates joining in 2018, Georgetown ranked among the top 25 volunteer-producing medium-sized schools; however, the number marks a marginal drop from 2017, when the Peace Corps announced Georgetown had provided 31 volunteers and ranked sixth among similarly sized schools.
The Peace Corps was founded by President John F. Kennedy to develop service-learning opportunities that create long-lasting change in communities across the globe. Georgetown’s top ranking with the Peace Corps reflects the similarity between the service-oriented goals of the two institutions, according to Emily Zenick (GRD ’98), chief of staff of the School of Foreign Service.
“The goals of the Peace Corps dovetail perfectly with the mission of Georgetown — to train people in key areas to provide needed services to people in other countries,” Zenick, a Peace Corps alumna herself, wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Service work opportunities and organizations like the Peace Corps have consistently had a strong relationship with Georgetown because of the university’s commitment to its Jesuit values, according to Beth Schill, an adviser at the Cawley Career Education Center whose focus includes the Peace Corps.
“Georgetown’s mission of preparing students to be persons for and with others, combined with the intellectual curiosity students have about our world is a perfect match for the mission of the Peace Corps,” Schill wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Volunteers with the Peace Corps sign a two-year contract to work in a country abroad to work on an issue area such as education, health or economic development. Applicants select a specific country they intend to volunteer in during their period of service and interview via video conference before receiving an acceptance.
Among medium-sized universities, considered schools between 5,000 and 10,000 undergraduate students, The George Washington University produced the most undergraduate alumni volunteers at 54, according to the report. The University of Wisconsin-Madison led large-sized universities with 75 undergraduate alumni joining the Peace Corps in 2018.
The Peace Corps provides an effective way to channel American values abroad, according to Grace Nagel (COL ’11), who is currently focusing on female empowerment in Senegal.
“Serving in the Peace Corps is not the same as taking up arms for one’s country, but Peace Corps Volunteers are often the closest thing to an American ambassador in many corners of the world,” Nagel wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Knowing that I could represent the best ideals of America — diversity, friendliness, and positivity — was inspiring to me.”
Beyond bringing important values to Senegal, the Peace Corps immerses its volunteers in different cultures, according to Nagel.
“Peace Corps Volunteers must integrate into their community — you cannot develop effective trainings or encourage behavior change if you don’t live how your community lives,” Nagel wrote.
More than 980 Georgetown graduates have volunteered with the Peace Corps since its founding in 1961, according to the organization. The university readies its students for the responsibility of a Peace Corps volunteer from both its commitment to teaching international perspectives and its on-campus opportunities, according to volunteers.
Service initiatives housed in the Georgetown Center for Social Justice can help prepare students for work in the Peace Corps, according to Joy Robertson (SFS ’16), who is currently a teacher in Mozambique.
“I was active in (probably too many) student organizations as an undergrad, but I can definitely attribute my comfort in the classroom to being a DC Reads tutor and a co-teacher in the Summer Institute for Teaching and Learning (STIL), both housed in the incredible CSJ,” Robertson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Georgetown prepares students for larger service efforts such as the Peace Corps by examining issues through both a global and community lens, according to Bianca Clark (SFS ’18), who is focusing on youth development in Morocco.
“The discussions I had on campus, both inside the classroom and out, have allowed me to see my service in a greater social justice context and solidified my commitment to the use of community assets to address community identified needs,” Clark wrote in an email to The Hoya.