The Peace Corps today released the 2015 rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities across the country, and Western Washington University was ranked No. 1 among medium-sized schools, with 47 alumni currently volunteering worldwide.
This was the third consecutive year that WWU has held the top spot overall in its category. Over the past 10 years the university has been ranked seventh or higher each year among medium-sized schools nationwide.
“We’re very proud to once again receive this recognition, because making a positive difference in the lives of others is a core Western value. We’re fortunate to have many students come to Western looking to put their higher education to higher purposes. Our job is to empower them with skills and learning experiences that can help them do just that here at home, and around the world,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.
Alumni from more than 3,000 colleges and universities nationwide have served in the Peace Corps since the agency’s founding in 1961, including 934 alumni from WWU.
Laura Kirk is a WWU graduate currently serving in Guatemala as a Youth in Development volunteer. She says she wanted to shake things up after college and found the perfect outlet through Peace Corps service.
“Western helped prepare me to go abroad by having such encouraging, open-minded, and social-justice oriented faculty,” said Kirk. “I always felt empowered that I could make a change; in fact, that is Western’s motto: ‘Active Minds Changing Lives.’”
Jill MacIntyre Witt, Peace Corps campus representative at Western, said: “I couldn’t be more proud of Western alumni who take what they learn here at the university and extend their service learning to help communities in need through the Peace Corps.”
This year also marks the second time that the top schools in the large, medium and small categories are in the state of Washington. The University of Washington reclaimed the No. 1 ranking for large schools with 72 volunteers and Gonzaga University took the top spot for the small category with 20 volunteers.
“Every year the Peace Corps unveils the upper echelon of colleges and universities that have distinguished themselves at the top of its volunteer-producing schools,” said Peace Corps West Coast Regional Manager Erin Carlson. “We take enormous pride in recognizing Western Washington University as one of the 23 universities from the West Coast producing dedicated individuals who personify the Peace Corps mission of promoting world peace and friendship. It’s an honor to congratulate the university for claiming the No. 1 ranking for the third consecutive year.”
“The Peace Corps provides an indispensable opportunity for young people out of college to gain work experience, learn a foreign language, and develop intercultural skills,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “International service helps volunteers refine qualities that can be difficult to measure, but are critical to long-term success, all while impacting the lives of people around the world.”
Peace Corps recruiting at Western operates out of the Career Services Center.
Below find the top five colleges and universities in each category and the number of alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers. View the complete 2015 rankings of the top 25 schools in each undergraduate category here.
Large Colleges & Universities – Total Volunteers:
More than 15,000 undergraduates
1. University of Washington (72)
2. University of Wisconsin–Madison (69)
3. University of Florida (66)
4. The Ohio State University (64)
5. University of Minnesota Twin Cities (63)
Medium Colleges & Universities – Total Volunteers:
Between 5,000 and 15,000 undergraduates
1. Western Washington University (47)
2. American University (41)
3. George Washington University (36)
3. University of Virginia (36)
5. Cornell University (33)
Small Colleges & Universities – Total Volunteers:
Less than 5,000 undergraduates
1. Gonzaga University (20)
2. Carleton College (17)
3. Middlebury College (16)
3. University of Puget Sound (16)
5. Macalester College (15)
*Rankings are calculated based on fiscal year 2014 data as of September 30, 2014, as self-reported by Peace Corps volunteers.
Western Washington University emphasizes excellence in undergraduate education and graduate programs. The third-largest university in the state, WWU offers degrees in more than 160 programs through its seven colleges. About 15,000 students attend Western, which U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked as the top public master’s-granting university in the Pacific Northwest. Western serves the local community, state and region through partnerships, innovative research, mentoring and community service activities.