The Peace Corps released a list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities Feb. 11, with Georgetown securing the number seven spot of all medium-sized schools. Georgetown’s neighbors, American University and The George Washington University, both placed in the top five, ranked third and fourth, respectively.
According to Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, the organization ranks institutions based on the number of students a university provides to the Peace Corps and publishes the rankings for multiple reasons.
According to a Peace Corps press release, 27 Georgetown students were accepted as volunteers for the Peace Corps in 2013.
“We’ve been ranking since 2001, and there are many purposes,” Hessler-Radelet said. “The first is to thank those universities that have been such great supporters of Peace Corps over the years and to celebrate their success. Another is to educate the general public about Peace Corps and what a great opportunity it is as a springboard to a career and great preparation for life.”
Hessler-Radelet said she believes that Georgetown’s ranking, although below its peer institutions’, demonstrates the student body’s commitment to service.
“Number seven is a great ranking,” Hessler-Radelet said. “We’d love to see Georgetown move up, and they have throughout the years. … All the schools in the D.C. area are very competitive and very internationally focused, and all are really focused on service, but I believe that Georgetown is a great contender and a fantastic Peace Corps school.”
The Peace Corps recruits Georgetown students each year with a series of events. The most recent event, an information session entitled “Mapping Your Peace Corps Career,” allowed Georgetown students to find out more about their options.
Molly Douglas (SFS ’09), a Peace Corps recruiter, helmed this latest information session and will return to Georgetown for another session in late February.
“It’s an opportunity for them socially for networking, but it’s also an opportunity for outreach to students here on campus to communicate to them the Peace Corps experience and to serve as mentors to students who are interested,” Douglas said.
The Cawley Career Education Center hosts these events each year, according to Manager of Student Resources Gregory Wilson.
“These events are really important for students both to offer them a chance to connect with Peace Corps alumni, but also to answer their questions about the application process,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he could not account for the fact that Georgetown is ranked below American and GW, but said that he is pleased with the fact that Georgetown’s ranking has moved up in the recent years. In the past three years, Georgetown has gone from tenth to seventh place.
“I think that [the rise in rank] speaks to how greatly aligned the mission here at Georgetown is with Peace Corps,” Wilson said. “I think in terms of what students are looking for, students really like Peace Corps because it’s a service organization, and that fits so well into our service-oriented learning here at Georgetown. I feel that so many students are interested in that line of work.”
Hessler-Radelet agrees that the Peace Corps and Georgetown have similar values.
“Georgetown is a great place for [recruitment],” she said. “Your whole ethos is around service, so it’s a natural progression. I would say … Georgetown’s international focus and commitment to service, which is really core to its Jesuit foundation, is really important.”
Douglas, who worked in Albania for two years during her Peace Corps career, attributed her preparation for the Peace Corps to her student experience at Georgetown.
“Georgetown’s approach to the way that they cultivate their students and support them and their mission in the world and engagement with D.C. is all about service,” Douglas said. “I think that service organizations like Peace Corps are a very natural step for a lot of volunteers, not just in checking off a box, but saying that you really do believe this kind of work, want to engage with the world, want to be of service to someone else, challenge yourself and go big or go home.”