According to a press release sent to us from the Peace Corps, Azusa Pacific was named the top producer of Peace Corps volunteers among all small colleges in California. In the annual list of Peace Corps’ “Top Colleges and Universities,” released last month, APU edged out Pepperdine University with 13 volunteers currently serving, compared to Pepperdine’s 11. Since Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, 46 APU alumni have served in the Peace Corps.
The report ranks schools 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.
“The Peace Corps relies heavily on the graduates of contributing schools from across the country. Their education and experiences add to the diversity of the Peace Corps and its success in the host countries,” said Director Ron Tschetter. “Currently, there are over 3,000 colleges and universities with alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers in 76 countries worldwide. We want to thank the schools and the graduates for their continued dedication to the mission of the Peace Corps.”
The Peace Corps saw a 16 percent increase in applications for fiscal year 2008 – the largest increase in five years.
Chiraphone Khamphouvong is one of the 46 APU graduates who have served in the Peace Corps. After graduating with a global studies degree in 1997, Khamphouvong served as an education and community development volunteer in South Africa from 1998 to 2000. Khamphouvong says she is “grateful for a wonderful South Africa experience” and “a great avenue to pursue public service.” She now works as the director of world missions at APU.
Jeanette Earley, APU’s Peace Corps recruiter, says that APU students have a strong service background. “By the time they graduate, a lot of students have had the opportunity to study and serve abroad, so their appetite is whet for international service and Peace Corps is a logical and natural next step.”
“This recognition is a strong confirmation that our students are developing a compelling worldview. Key members of our staff and faculty are building both cross-cultural experience and international education into the student journey here at Azusa Pacific,” said APU President Jon Wallace.
More Californians have served in the Peace Corps than any other state. With 911 Californians currently serving and 26,249 since 1961, California has more than twice as many as the nearest state, New York.
APU just missed the cut-off for the Peace Corps “Top Colleges and Universities” list this year. In the small school category, the 25th-ranked schools had 15 volunteers currently serving compared to APU’s 13. You can view the full list of rankings here: http://www.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/stats/schools2009.pdf.