image title

ASU jumps 9 spots in Peace Corps ranking, landing in top 15

ASU moved from No. 22 to No. 13 on Peace Corps top colleges list.
43 Sun Devils currently serve in the Peace Corps worldwide.
March 1, 2017

Service organization says 43 Sun Devils are currently volunteering around the world

Arizona State University jumped nine spots this year from its 2016 ranking on the Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, securing a spot in the top 15.

ASU moved up to No. 13 — tying with UCLA and ranking ahead of schools including the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia and Indiana University — with 43 Sun Devils currently volunteering worldwide. Their majors span a breadth of fields, from business to sustainability to global health. 

Peace Corps campus recruiter Breanne Lott said it shows the strength of the partnership between ASU and the Peace Corps.

“Over the past couple years, the partnership has really grown,” she said. “There’s a Peace Corps class, a Peace Corps ambassador internship, a Peace Corps club and more. There are tons of ways to get involved and explore what the Peace Corps has to offer.”

Since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961, 1,052 ASU alumni have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers.

 2017 marks the eighth consecutive year the university has been recognized on the Top Colleges list, which is compiled annually according to the size of the student body.

“Peace Corps service is an unparalleled leadership opportunity that enables college and university alumni to use the creative-thinking skills they developed in school to make an impact in communities around the world,” acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley said in a press release. “Many college graduates view Peace Corps as a launching pad for their careers because volunteers return home with the cultural competency and entrepreneurial spirit sought after in most fields.”

Service in the Peace Corps is a life-defining, hands-on experience that offers volunteers the opportunity to travel to a community overseas and make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

ASU psychology senior Katharine Greer was recently accepted into the Peace Corps and will be heading to Costa Rica in July to teach English. A member of the ASU Peace Corps club, she has been preparing by giving English lessons to refugees in the Phoenix area.

“It’s worthwhile to experience a different culture and way of life,” Greer said. “Especially now, in order to be a global citizen. … Also, I have a desire to help people, and this felt like the perfect way to help now — not after grad school or after I get my PhD, but right now.”

Lott, who served in Ethiopia from 2012 to 2014, said that ASU’s core values line up perfectly with the Peace Corps.

“ASU is a really unique school,” she said. “Its model of a New American University that strives to be socially embedded and part of the global community fits really well with the goals and mission of the Peace Corps.”

This year’s rankings follow the launch of the Peace Corps’ refreshed brand platform that underscores its commitment to putting the user experience first, making the agency more accessible to audiences through the platforms they already use. Interested parties can learn more about service opportunities by visiting the Peace Corps website and connecting with a recruiter.

View the complete 2017 rankings of the top 25 schools in each category here, and find an interactive map that shows where alumni from each college and university are serving here.

Top photo: A road winds through a farming area outside Cartago, Costa Rica. ASU psychology senior Katharine Greer will be heading to that nation in July to teach English with the Peace Corps; she has been preparing by giving English lessons to refugees in the Phoenix area as part of the ASU Peace Corps Club. Photo by Jose Conejo Saenz

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

Taste of Peace Corps experience brings perspective

Students explore Dominican Republic in one of ASU's new spring-break study abroad trips

April 4, 2016

For ASU senior Jack O’Brien, the words of baseball great Jackie Robinson have always been a guiding principle: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” 

The quote by his favorite player, O’Brien said, also perfectly describes his feelings about his recent mid-semester ASU study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic.   ASU spring break global experience in the Dominican Republic Seventeen ASU students seized the opportunity to spend their spring break exploring what Peace Corps work might be like, participating in the inaugural "Taste of Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic" global intensive experience. From left, front row: Jack O'Brien, Samantha Spadaro, Brianna Celaya, Mary Flora, Elissa Latta, Meghan Scollard, Lesile Amaya, Gabrielle Blanchette, Rachel Prickett, Mary Casas, Silvia Acuna. Second row: faculty director for the trip Jessica Hirshorn, Kristin Jones, Morgan Plowman, Phylicia Grant, Chad James, Seannah Franklin, Clariece Marlowe Bayne. Download Full Image

“After returning to the States from spending a week in the Dominican Republic, the biggest thing I walked away with is perspective,” O’Brien said. “Witnessing extreme poverty, incalculable amounts of trash and waste, a serious lack of fresh water, and low standard of living made me realize what is important in humanity. Despite the harsh living environment, the people in the DR (Domincan Republic) were the most genuine, caring, passionate, helpful and overall loving people. Their sense of community involvement and ‘take the shirt off your back and give it to someone who needs it’ type of attitude changed my perspective on life.”

O’Brien is one of 17 ASU students who participated in the “Taste of Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic” global intensive experience over spring break. Organized by the College of Letters and Sciences and ASU Career Services, the program was facilitated by Discover Corps, an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association.

Students visited active or recent Peace Corps volunteer sites, including a chocolate factory run by a women's cooperative where a business volunteer is currently serving, a site where a past volunteer implemented a stove project, and a site where a past volunteer helped build an aqueduct. Additionally, they lent their muscle to help build a school and a home — using plastic bottle-construction — and a vertical garden.

A few leisure activities were also built into the itinerary: a visit to an ecological park, a mangrove, and snorkeling. 

“The program was an excellent way for students to experience what it would be like to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer, prior to making a two-year commitment,” said College of Letters and Sciences senior lecturer Jessica Hirshorn, faculty director for the trip and a former Peace Corps volunteer in the Federated States of Micronesia. “In the end this experience was a success, solidifying for some students that they wanted to join the Peace Corps and for others that the Peace Corps may not be for them.”  

At ASU, Hirshorn has served as a past faculty director for the College of Letters and Sciences’ London and Dublin summer internship programs and, in addition to leading this inaugural Dominican Republic spring break experience, is the faculty director of ASU's new summer internship program in Beijing.

Samantha Spadaro, who graduates in May with interdisciplinary studies concentrations in sociology and communication, chose the Dominican Republic opportunity to complete her internship credits.

“I chose this program because I knew that my time and energy would be valued by the people I was helping and that it was a bone fide program,” said Spadaro.

An unexpected consequence of the trip was the enormous sense of community she experienced.

“I’m incredibly happy that ASU offered this program! I found it very interesting how humble and grateful the people that we helped were. Their warmness was to be unmatched by any experience I have had working with many non-profits in the States,” she observed. “As Americans we often find ourselves out of touch with what it truly means to have a sense of community, and that was one of my favorite parts of this trip. Not only did we get to be a part of the Dominican communities but also created our own.” 

O’Brien will also graduate in May with interdisciplinary studies concentrations in business and communications and a history minor. He is taking a job with a St. Louis-based contracting company Altman Charter. “But I’ll probably be living in San Antonio, Texas, working as a project engineer managing a commercial-grade construction project,” he explained.  

He recommends that all students aim for an experience that lets them look at life in the United States from a fresh perspective.

“As Americans we often fabricate and create our problems. We often hate instead of love,” O’Brien reflected. “I would encourage future students to invest some time in traveling to a developing country as I think it would bring about a life-changing experience to all.”

Maureen Roen

Editorial and communication coordinator, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts