By JONATHAN POLSON
For the second consecutive year, the University of Mary Washington was ranked number one among small schools in the Peace Corps’ annual list of top volunteer producing colleges and universities.
According the Peace Corps’ official website, UMW is the number one producer of Peace Corps volunteers from colleges and universities with 5,000 or less undergraduates.
“I think our graduates have a strong attraction to the Peace Corps because of our focus on service and their liberal arts education that I believe broadens their thinking and curiosity,” said Hurley.
In a letter from Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams, 29 UMW undergraduate alumni and one graduate alumnus “are representing our country abroad by serving as Peace Corps Volunteers.”
“These volunteers are applying the skills and knowledge they acquired during their time at UMW to help improve the lives of people across the globe,” said Williams.
“I am very pleased that UMW continues to be the leader of the small colleges in terms of active Peace Corps volunteers,” said President Rick Hurley.
Before coming to UMW, freshmen Ellie Meyer and Taryn Payne said they were not aware that UMW held the number one spot in Peace Corps’ list.
Meyer feels that since the school has a close relationship with the Peace Corps’ program, her likelihood of being a volunteer has increased.
“I’ve wanted to do it since middle school. I hope to join right after graduation,” said Meyer. “I definitely feel that there are better chances now since the Peace Corps knows about UMW and that many students here are interested.”
According to the Peace Corps’ website, a volunteer applicant must be 18 years of age and a U.S. citizen. The website also states that interest in the program, volunteer experience, and a college degree help in receiving a volunteer position.
The Peace Corps’ website states that volunteers spend 27 months with an overseas community, helping with education, youth and community development, health, business, agriculture, and environment.
Volunteers may receive graduate school credits as well as complete medical care and health insurance for 18 months following service, according to the organization’s website.
Hurley also believes that UMW’s ranking will attract students to UMW who are looking into a future with the Peace Corps.
“I think this recognition will cause prospective students to take a look at us,” he said, “and I think the recognition creates a prestige factor for us.”
“We are extremely grateful for the tremendous support that [President Hurley], the faculty and staff, and, of course, the graduates of the University of Mary Washington have provided to the Peace Corps since 1961,” said Williams.