UW-Madison ranks as top-producing Peace Corps institution

by Rachel Alkon

Alumni of UW-Madison and the Peace Corps continue to have a strong historical bond.

Since the program’s inception in 1961, UW-Madison has produced thousands of volunteers. And today, for the 20th consecutive year, UW-Madison takes the top spot, with 104 volunteers currently serving in the field.

UW-Madison also ranks as the institution with the second highest number of volunteers with advanced degrees, with 18 alumni. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor earned the number spot in this category, with 22 volunteers.

The University of California-Berkeley ranks the all-time top producer, with more than 3,000 alumni volunteers.

Gregory Pepping, the UW-Madison Peace Corps campus representative, says the Peace Corps is more popular than ever. “The current generation is graduating with a renewed sense of service and an international focus,” he says.

Pepping attributes the Wisconsin idea to the high number of UW-Madison Peace Corps volunteers. “The community is committed to international service,” Pepping says. “Students want to serve.”

Peace Corps volunteers work in a diverse array of fields, such as HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment and agriculture.

Peace Corps members are placed in 72 countries from Asia to Central America, and from Europe to Africa, with 43 percent of volunteers serving in education, youth and community development, says Pepping. Volunteers are required to make a 27-month commitment, with three-month training in the United States and 24-month mission in a developing country.