Colorado State University Moves Into National Top 5 for Graduate School Peace Corps Volunteers

Colorado State University continues its proud association with the Peace Corps, climbing to fifth nationally for the number of volunteers in the 2013 graduate school category, and moving up to 12th in the undergraduate category for large schools.

The annual list, released today by the Peace Corps, recognizes the highest volunteer-producing colleges and universities for small, medium, large and graduate institutions. Colorado State was sixth in the graduate school category and 13th in the undergraduate category in 2012.

“We are thrilled to find out that CSU continues to move up in the rankings as a recruiter for Peace Corps volunteers at the graduate and undergraduate levels,” said Jim Cooney, Vice Provost for International Affairs. “We offer our thanks and congratulations to the CSU students and alumni who have served abroad as Peace Corps volunteers and to the many faculty and staff who support Peace Corps efforts.”

Currently 15 CSU graduate students and 71 undergraduate alumni are serving overseas in 38 host countries. Since 1961, 1,551 CSU alumni have served in the Peace Corps, No. 14 on the list of all-time top schools.

“For the past few years Colorado State University has maintained its position as a top performer for the Peace Corps in the graduate and undergraduate categories,” said Mike McKay, Southwest Regional Manager. “The unique partnership between CSUs Office of International Programs and our Master’s International program has helped promote the Peace Corps mission and reaffirms our collaboration and commitment to providing qualified and competitive applicants who are committed to service and making a difference in communities overseas.”

The Master’s International program allows students the opportunity to integrate graduate study with international development practice through Peace Corps field experience. CSU and Peace Corps participate in five cooperative master’s degree programs, giving students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree and hands-on experience in English, Food Science, Human Nutrition, Natural Resources and Public Health. Students who complete 27 months of Peace Corps service earn academic credit.

More than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 76 host countries on projects related to agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development.

CSU has a strong history of providing volunteers and support to the Peace Corps, which can be traced to the organization’s beginnings. Colorado State researchers Pauline Birky-Kreutzer and Maury Albertson, answering President John F. Kennedy’s famous call to service, in 1961 published one of the original feasibility studies that led to the creation of the Peace Corps.

In December, the Peace Corps revealed that the Fort Collins-Loveland area was the nation’s highest-producing area for volunteers, a per capita average of 14.7 volunteers per 100,000 residents. Fort Collins-Loveland was the only city in Colorado to be ranked in the top 10 in the annual survey.

Fort Collins native and 2011 CSU graduate Benjamin Morse said the university’s strong international presence played a key role in preparing him for his experiences in the Peace Corps. He’s been serving in Ethiopia for more than one year as a conservation natural resource management specialist.

“My professors helped prepare me for the Peace Corps in ways that are incomparable to other life experiences. I am now working on an eco-tourism project with Millennium Village Projects, an American NGO [non-governmental organization], and I have to give credit to CSU for my extensive knowledge on the subject,” said Morse. “CSU taught me how to be flexible, work as an individual and on a team, and seek out resources that might not be easily attainable. Universities are not designed to teach you everything you need to know, but to teach you how to access that information quickly, efficiently and competently. Colorado State University taught me just that, and those skills have landed me in Ethiopia.”

The CSU Peace Corps office is located in the Office of International Programs, second floor of Laurel Hall on the main campus, and can be reached at (970) 491-7706.