Thursday January 22, 2009

A Leader in Peace Corps Volunteers

The University of Dayton ranks 23rd among medium-sized schools for producing Peace Corps volunteers.

The University of Dayton, for the first time, is listed among the Peace Corps' top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. UD ranked 23rd among medium-sized schools in the Peace Corps' annual list, with 20 alumni serving as volunteers in 2008, an increase from 13 volunteers in the field recorded in the previous year.

"This Peace Corps ranking is really one among many great examples of how the University's mission of learn, lead and serve gets lived out among our students and our graduates," said Nicholas Cardilino, director of UD's Center for Social Concern.

Volunteer service is a common trait among UD students, who participate in high numbers in faith-based programs and social justice projects during breaks in the school year and after graduation, Cardilino said.

"We are intentional about forming young people who are committed to working for the common good," he said.

Katrina Duckett, a senior biochemistry major from Bethel Twp., Ohio, has been accepted to join the Peace Corps upon graduation in May. She plans to spend two years in sub-Saharan Africa teaching math and science to elementary students as well as assist with healthcare projects.

Duckett said she has always felt a calling to volunteer. She got her start as a high school freshman volunteering at Children's Medical Center in Dayton, and she found ways to stay actively involved with service groups on UD's campus.

"UD provides numerous opportunities for students to become involved in service as well as stresses the importance of getting involved," Duckett said. "I want to be involved in something that is bigger than me, and the Peace Corps is the doorway. The idea of being completely submerged in a drastically different culture is exciting and new."

The University of Dayton supports Peace Corps recruitment efforts on campus. Representatives from the Chicago Regional Peace Corps Office visit campus each semester to provide information about the program and share their experiences as volunteers. Last April, the University invited Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen to deliver the keynote address to open UD's annual Stander Symposium.

"Students are gravitating towards service, and the Peace Corps is a great option," said Amy Anderson, UD's director of international programs and a former Peace Corps volunteer. "You don't have to go into debt to do it, and it provides excellent professional experience, especially for students considering careers in international affairs."

The Peace Corps will host an information session at UD at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, in the World Exchange Room, 16 Alumni Hall. The session is free and open to the public.

The University of Dayton tied for third out of five Ohio schools making the Peace Corps' list this year. Ohio State University had 57 volunteers in the field, Miami University had 39, Oberlin College had 20, and Denison University produced 17 volunteers.

A total of 316 University of Dayton alumni have served in Peace Corps since 1961, when it began under President John F. Kennedy. Overall, 6,276 Ohioans have served in the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps issues the ranking each year, and schools are ranked according to the size of the student body. Small schools are those with less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-sized schools have between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates, and large schools have more than 15,000 undergraduates.

Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment, including comprehensive language, cultural, safety and security and program training. Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. To learn more about the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorps.gov or call 800-424-8580 to speak with a recruiter.

The University of Dayton is Ohio's largest private university and a top-tier national university with sponsored research totaling $75 million annually. As one of the top-10 Catholic universities in the nation, UD emphasizes transformative education and prepares students for leadership and service in their communities in the Marianist tradition.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of media relations, at 937-229-3256 or mpant1@udayton.edu.