UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has been recognized by the Peace Corps as No. 15 nationally for volunteer-producing colleges and universities in 2020. This is the fourth consecutive year that Penn State has ranked among the top 25 large schools in the country.
There are currently 48 Penn State alumni volunteering around the world.
Alice Greider graduated with a bachelor's degree in global and international studies and a master's in international affairs. She is now serving as a youth development volunteer in Ukraine.
“Southern Ukraine looks a little different from Penn State, but I wouldn't have it any other way. My international affairs classes and professors at Penn State helped me decide to join the Peace Corps in Ukraine in lieu of other post-grad options, and I've definitely learned a lot here. But I've also been able to teach my friends and students here about the best parts of Penn State life — from ‘Americanski footbol’ to our dedication to serving others,” Greider said.
Penn State and the Peace Corps have had a long and fruitful partnership since the agency was founded in 1961. Since that time more than 1,175 Penn State alumni have served with the Peace Corps globally.
In 2016, Penn State and the Peace Corps finalized a new partnership that helps returning Peace Corps volunteers pursue their graduate education in the School of International Affairs, Smeal College of Business, or the College of Agricultural Sciences.
Since the inception of the partnership, 14 returning volunteers have chosen Penn State for their graduate program.
Encouraging returning volunteers to further their education at Penn State has led to the surrounding State College area being nationally ranked as the 9th largest metropolitan area for returning volunteers per capita in 2019.
Andrew Maguire knows the importance of having returning volunteers live in the community. After graduating from Penn State in 1993 Maguire served with the Peace Corps as a water and sanitation technician. He and his wife returned to the area and have seen first-hand how returning volunteers have positively impacted the community.
"It makes State College a robust community. There is so much engagement at the community level and there are a lot of non-profits in town. I'm on the board of a couple and involved in several others and I'm always running in to other returned Peace Corps volunteers that are doing similar work," Maguire said.
“I think the experience of being a Penn State student and a Peace Corps volunteer translates to a commitment to community long term,” he said.
Maguire now works with Career Services, a division of Penn State Student Affairs, as a returning Peace Corps volunteer dedicated to working with current students interested in applying to the program. Maguire meets with students to help them understand the application process and how they can be competitive candidates.
"I'm talking with students early on when they first enter college their freshman year about the possibilities of what kinds of course work or what type of volunteer work they are interested in. When they get closer to their junior years our conversations are more about going through the application process," he said.
Students interested in the Peace Corps can connect with Maguire during office hours or schedule an appointment to meet. Those looking for more information can visit https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/career/counseling/peace-corps.
Maguire said that spending time abroad helps develop a global perspective and can lead to opportunities, and encourages students to consider it.
"I tell students that having the Penn State degree and having Peace Corps on your resume have opened so many doors and really helped me develop my career personally and professionally," he said.