For the first time, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire ranks among the Peace Corps' top volunteer-producing colleges and universities in the United States.
With 13 graduates currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers, UW-Eau Claire ranks No. 24 on the Peace Corps' annual Top Schools rankings list among medium-size schools nationwide.
Since the Peace Corps was created in 1961, 347 UW-Eau Claire graduates have served as Peace Corps volunteers.
Serving in the Peace Corps has helped her see the world differently, said Heather Phelps, a current Peace Corps volunteer and 2012 UW-Eau Claire graduate who is a youth development volunteer in the Philippines.
"Peace Corps has changed my perspective in realizing what things are merely cultural and what things are more universal," said Phelps, who earned a bachelor's degree in political science and a certificate in teaching English as a foreign language, which helped prepare her for her English education work in another country. "Methods of doing things here are just as valid even if they're not what I'm used to. But then, of course, some things, like family and friends, truly are universal."
Since July 2013, Phelps has been teaching English to students in grades 7-10 in the Philippines. Her projects include library development, working on a theater production and arranging a theater workshop for teachers.
Service in the Peace Corps is a hands-on leadership experience that offers volunteers the opportunity to travel to the farthest corners of the world and work on sustainable development projects in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development.
Volunteers return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community development skills that position them well for advanced education and professional opportunities in a 21st-century job market, according to Peace Corps leaders.
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide.
Peace Corps recruiter Janice McInerney, a returned volunteer who served in Ukraine, advises Peace Corps candidates from UW-Eau Claire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Peace Corps, visit http://www.peacecorps.gov/.