Nation's top crop of Peace Corps volunteers came from CU

February 1, 2011

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post

POSTED: 02/01/2011 02:25:31 PM MST

UPDATED: 02/01/2011 02:25:33 PM MST

For the first time, the University of Colorado led universities in providing the nation's Peace Corps volunteers.

The Boulder campus topped the 2011 list with 117 undergraduate alumni currently serving overseas. It was ranked second in both 2010 and 2009 and has been among the top three since 2004.

Also a first this year: two Colorado cities — Boulder and Fort Collins — made the Peace Corps' Top 10.

CU-Boulder also ranks as the No. 5 all-time school for volunteers, sending 2,269 volunteers into service since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961. The University of California's Berkeley campus takes top honors in that category, with 3,457.

Colorado State University ranked 10th overall, with 79 volunteers in 2010.

CSU often is credited with cultivating the Peace Corps. In reponse to President John F. Kennedy's famous call to service, researchers Pauline Birky-Kreutzer and Maury Albertson published in 1961 one of the original feasibility studies that led to the creation of the global volunteer organization.

Each year, CU-Boulder officials said, more than 13,000 students participate in some form of community service. In 2008, the university was one of only three colleges and universities to receive a Presidential Award for Community Service.

The Peace Corps is one of 12 campus programs overseen by CU-Boulder's Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement.

"I think being involved in several leadership roles here at CU-Boulder has made me realize how much I have to offer, and I hope to use my leadership experience when I travel to Africa," said CU-Boulder senior Chelsea Komlo, an anthropology and philosophy major who has volunteered for the Peace Corps, but hasn't received an assignment yet.

For the past four years, the top Peace Corps spot for large universities, those of more than 15,000, had gone to the University of Washington. UW fell to fifth place this year behind CU, the University of Florida, University of Michigan and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

However, University of Washington graduate schools provided the most volunteers — 21 — among graduate schools this year.

The top medium-sized school, between 5,001 and 15,000 students, is The George Washington University, which has 72 alumni in the corps. Top small college was University of Mary Washington, with 32.

Today's Peace Corps has more than 8,655 American volunteers working in 77 host countries. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and able to commit to a 27-month assignment.

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 oredraper@denverpost.com

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