DURHAM, N.H. - With 25 alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps, the University of New Hampshire now ranks at No. 18 among medium-sized colleges and universities whose graduates go on to volunteer for the organization that was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
In 2011, with 21 alumni serving, UNH was at No. 25. Since its founding more than 40 years ago, 670 UNH alumni have entered the Peace Corps.
Depending on a country’s need, volunteers work in the areas of education, health and HIV/AIDS, community development, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment.
UNH alumni are currently serving as volunteers in Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Madagascar, Moldova, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Tonga, Uganda, Ukraine, Vanuatu and Zambia.
Ashlei Laing of Portsmouth, an education volunteer in Bulgaria, credited UNH with preparing her for overseas service. “UNH gave me a diverse education that made me feel I had many different skills to share,” said Laing, who graduated with a studio art and education degree in 2007. “My service is utilizing the skills and knowledge I have gained as a modern educator. I am thoroughly enjoying the adventure and the ability to share and strive for a better, more educated future for our world.”
The Peace Corps’ nine regional recruiting offices across the United States work to recruit and provide information and guidance to prospective volunteers. Applicants are encouraged to apply one year in advance of their targeted departure date. Americans with backgrounds in agriculture, environment, teaching English as a second language, and other technical or language skills related to Peace Corps assignment areas are encouraged to apply.
“Colleges and universities prepare thousands of talented undergraduate and graduate alumni for Peace Corps service every year,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams (Dominican Republic, 1967-1970). “These alumni go on to serve as Peace Corps volunteers, applying the skills and knowledge they acquired during their studies to promote world peace and friendship and improve the lives of people around the world.”
The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing schools annually according to the size of the student body. Small schools have 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. The rankings are calculated based on fiscal year 2011 data as of Sept. 30, 2011 as self-reported by Peace Corps volunteers.
The top 25 rankings for each school size category, as well as all-time and graduate school rankings, can be read here.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.
A photo of Ashlei Laing can be downloaded at http://www.unh.edu/news/img/PeaceCorps.jpg.