This past year, the Peace Corps listed the University of Mary Washington as first in the country among small universities for alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers.
According to a news release prepared by Christine Neuberger, UMW placed second in 2010 and came in sixth among small universities in 2009.
Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Searcy believes Mary Washington’s promotion of social justice peaks students interests in the Peace Corps.
“Our community naturally engages issues of social justice; it seems to be a part of our ethos, our community spirit,” Searcy said. “So much of what we find important at UMW stems from the ideal of making the world a better place, from the legacy of James Farmer to the inherent excellence we promote through honor.”
Senior Desiree De Haven believes the Peace Corps is a great opportunity to travel and help others.
“It comes down to just helping people,” De Haven said. “But the Peace Corps interests me specifically because it’s got such a strong reputation in volunteerism so I know the programs have really good training and preparation before volunteers start their projects. I also really want to gain a more personal idea of the world because I’ve never been off the continent.”
There is “a tradition here at UMW of being interested in the Peace Corps” said Director of Career Services Gary Johnson. “Students who have come here have always been engaged in service projects.”
According to Johnson, when UMW admissions speak to prospective students, they place great emphasis on the university’s success in sending students and alumni into the Peace Corps. UMW attempts to recruit students committed to helping others.
“We draw students interest in the Peace Corps because that’s how we promote the fact that we have a large number of students that go into the Peace Corps,” Johnson said.
He noted the presence of on-campus service clubs, such as Community Outreach and Resources and Students Helping Honduras, as evidence of students’ devotion to serving others. In addition to luring prospective students, Johnson says Peace Corps representatives are plentiful on campus and attend the fall and spring employee fairs to talk to current students.
“[The Peace Corps] is adventurous, it’s structured, it’s well-established, it’s relatively safe,” he said. “This makes it attractive to students who are interested in other cultures, service, and traveling.”
Junior Jonah Butler was not aware of UMW’s connection to the Peace Corps, but has always been interested in service.
“For several years now, I’ve had this sort of undying passion to enlist,” Butler said. “Helping in some areas across the seas has been appealing to me.”
Interested students should go to the career center for information on how to apply.