SMCM Third in the Nation in Number of Peace Corps Volunteers - Southern Maryland Headline News

SMCM Third in the Nation in Number of Peace Corps Volunteers


Community Service Increased by 19% Among Students Serving Abroad

Lisa Byrne ‘06 from Rockville, Maryland, served in Kenya as a math teacher. Byrne worked at a rural public secondary school teaching high school mathematics and physics. She also started a health club focusing on HIV/AIDS. Byrne credits here liberal arts education at St. Mary’s with giving her the confidence to teach many subjects. Byrne was a teaching assistant in the St. Mary’s math department and one of the select students in the College’s Nitze Scholars Program. (Submitted photo)
Lisa Byrne ‘06 from Rockville, Maryland, served in Kenya as a math teacher. Byrne worked at a rural public secondary school teaching high school mathematics and physics. She also started a health club focusing on HIV/AIDS. Byrne credits here liberal arts education at St. Mary’s with giving her the confidence to teach many subjects. Byrne was a teaching assistant in the St. Mary’s math department and one of the select students in the College’s Nitze Scholars Program. (Submitted photo)

ST. MARY’S CITY, Md. (Feb. 09, 2010) – St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) graduates are giving back to the world community in numbers greater than ever. The Peace Corps has ranked SMCM in third place, up 11 places, on the list of all colleges with under 2,500 undergraduates whose graduates go on to join the Peace Corps. The public honors liberal arts college has 19 alumni currently serving abroad, a 19% increase from last year. Middlebury College and Williams College were ranked number one and two, respectively.

St. Mary's College alumni have served in Morocco, East Timor, South Korea, Moldova, Ukraine, Botswana, Mauritania, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Poland, and Nepal, among others. Alumni have worked as teachers of English, special education and mathematics; as health aids and educators; and in fields of agriculture, forestry, business, and marine sciences. The college has been ranked among the Top 25 volunteer contributors in its category for the past four years.

Larry Vote, acting president of SMCM, said, "Our inclusion on this list shows the dedication of our students to community service, whether it be here in Southern Maryland, or overseas in the broader, global community. I am very proud of the 110 alumni who have served in the Peace Corps since the program’s inception. The college’s strong focus on international education will hopefully inspire even more students to pursue this unique opportunity in the coming years."

Many of the students who attended a presentation about the Peace Corps last semester were freshmen and sophomores, according to regional recruiter Jessica Koehler. “It is great that the students are looking to start working towards the Peace Corps early, as it has become more competitive,” Koehler said. Among applicants, Koehler said that those from St. Mary’s have already had “a great deal of service and experience internationally.”

Several Peace Corps alumni have provided leadership for current study-abroad options for students at SMCM. The College's long-standing study-abroad program with The Gambia in West Africa came about, in part, because of the Peace Corps. Bill Roberts, now a professor of anthropology at SMCM and Fulbright Award recipient, was a Peace Corps volunteer to The Gambia when he was a young college graduate. The village where he served in the early 1970s has become one of the focal points of SMCM's study abroad program.

“For nearly 50 years, enthusiastic college alumni have contributed to the success of Peace Corps programs and our mission to promote world peace and friendship in host communities around the world,” said Peace Corps director Aaron S. Williams. “Peace Corps service is a life changing leadership opportunity and a great career foundation in almost every field, ranging from international development, education, public health, engineering, agriculture, and law, to name a few. I am proud of our historic relationship with over 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States and look forward to recruiting and training the next generation of Peace Corps volunteers.”

Currently, there are 7,671 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 76 host countries around the world. A college degree is not mandatory for service. Relevant experience in areas such as education, health, business, IT, environment, and agriculture, however, is required. In 2009, the Peace Corps received over 15,000 applications, an 18 percent increase over 2008. This is the largest number of applications since the agency began electronically recording applications in 1998.

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