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Tufts ranks among top colleges for Peace Corps volunteers

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 22:02

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Courtesy Colin Harari

Colin Harari (LA ’10 volunteered with the Peace Corps in Tanzani after graduating. Tufts ranked No. 15 this year in among medium-sized colleges for producing volunteers..

 

The Peace Corps ranked Tufts 15th among medium-sized colleges for producing volunteers in 2013, according to a Feb. 5 press release.

Tufts currently has 26 undergraduate alumni serving overseas with the Peace Corps — five fewer students than last year’s count — and has a total of 528 alumni who have volunteered since the Peace Corps began in 1961, according to Elizabeth Chamberlain, public affairs specialist for the Peace Corps’ New England Regional Office.

“There has obviously been some increased interest at Tufts,” Chamberlain told the Daily. 

Tufts also held the No. 15 spot in 2012, after having previously fallen off the list since 2008.

“Tufts is an awesome Peace Corps school,” Katrina Deutsch, Peace Corps’s volunteer recruitment and selection officer for the greater Boston area, said. “Tufts has a spirit of community service and volunteerism ... and it comes across in the students.”

Alumni have gone on to work with focuses on education, the environment, public health and youth development in various locations across the globe, according to the press release.

Chamberlain said that over the last 50 years Tufts students have most likely served in all of the 139 countries in which the Peace Corps is active. There are Tufts graduates working in Benin, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Jordan, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Ukraine, among other countries.

Deutsch emphasized that Tufts’ guiding principles, international focus and extracurricular groups such as the Leonard Carmichael Society have contributed to students’ strong volunteer mentalities.

“Students have a good foundation and base in foreign service work and community development in their time at Tufts, which translates well into making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer around the world,” she said. “It’s a combination of that international relations, the language requirement, as well as the public health and even environmental science program that makes a really strong Peace Corps applicant.”

Emily Weiss, who will volunteer with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia after graduating in May, highlighted the similarity between the principles of Tufts and the Peace Corps.

“I definitely feel like a lot of people at Tufts have embraced the values of the Peace Corps kind of champions,” Weiss, a senior, said. “Active citizenship is kind of a buzzword around campus, and that’s really important with the Peace Corps. So I think the two mentalities overlap nicely.”

Alli Lawrence (LA ’11) said that her time at Tufts trained her well for working in child health and development with the Peace Corps in Peru, where she is currently stationed.

“My experiences at Tufts prepared me to succeed in the application process because I had demonstrated academic, volunteer and internship experience in community health and strong language abilities,” Lawrence told the Daily in an email.

Colin Harari (LA ’10), who returned in the fall from two years of volunteering in Tanzania as a physics and math teacher, noted that many of his former classmates have followed in his footsteps by joining the Peace Corps.

“I do have a bunch of friends from Tufts that have gone into the Peace Corps the past year or two, and the numbers seem to be increasing,” he said.

Peace Corps volunteers do not only include students who have just graduated from college, Chamberlain said.

“Some [volunteers] may have graduated recently, and some maybe a decade ago,” she said. 

Deutsch attributed the high number of Boston schools in the top rankings to their large student populations and the city’s college atmosphere.

“Boston University is the 19th largest producer for large schools — with 59 alumni currently serving — and I think that’s just the sheer number and size of that university,” she said. “I do think if Tufts had a larger student population it would be up there as well.”

Harari believes that Tufts will rise in the rankings in years to come.

“The more people that end up going, the more awareness of what the Peace Corps is sort of spreads throughout the Tufts community,” he said.

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