UC Berkeley News


Berkeley moving back up as source of Peace Corps volunteers

15 February 2006

On the Top 25 list of large schools that produce Peace Corps volunteers, Berkeley has moved up a notch to third place, with 82 alumni currently in service worldwide, according to 2006 rankings released earlier this month by the Corps. And in a new Peace Corps category - volunteers with advanced degrees - Berkeley placed seventh, with 13 alumni volunteers.

Berkeley remains in first place, however, in terms of producing the largest number of volunteers - 3,236 - throughout Peace Corps history. No other school has topped 3,000 volunteers, according to Corps data. The Peace Corps has enlisted 182,000 volunteers since its inception in 1961.

"UC Berkeley is slowly regaining its No. 1 position for the yearly rankings," says Veronica Standifird, a recruiter who staffs the Peace Corps office on campus. Berkeley was last ranked No. 1 in 1984. Mike Bishop, acting director of the Cal Corps Public Service Center, adds that Cal Corps is partnering with that office "to bring our current placement numbers in line with our historic standing."

For the 20th year in a row, the University of Wisconsin at Madison is the No. 1 producer of current Peace Corps volunteers, with 104 in service, according to the 2006 rankings. The University of Washington is second, with 102 alumni stationed around the world. Berkeley tied for third place with the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Berkeley is unique among many colleges and universities because it provides the Peace Corps with a diverse group of volunteers, says Standifird, who recruits volunteers from the East Bay, Davis, Sacramento, Chico, Nevada, and Hawaii. Today's overall Peace Corps is 58-percent female, and minorities represent 16 percent of volunteers. But at Berkeley, she says, "We are very high in diversity recruiting. Of the 82 alumni serving this year, about 50 percent are minorities," including Asians, Latinos, and African Americans.

The Peace Corps "wants to be the face of America, to send out volunteers who represent all parts of the United States - different ethnicities and backgrounds. It's a huge goal in D.C.," says Standifird. "California - and Berkeley in particular - are in the forefront of trying to change the demographic."

The campus Peace Corps recruitment office is in 505 Eshelman. Recruiter Veronica Standifird can be reached via e-mail at vstandifird@peacecorps.gov, or call (415) 977-8797 or (800) 424-8580, option 1, extension 8797.