Wednesday, February 28, 2024

U Peace Corps ranks high in volunteers

March 30, 2001

The MSU men’s basketball and hockey teams are not the only groups on campus earning high honors these days.

The MSU Peace Corps ranks in the top 25 among colleges and universities nationwide who have the highest number of volunteers currently serving overseas.

MSU ranked 11th on the list, with 54 graduates in volunteer service.

Paul Balgoyen, a strategic Peace Corps recruiter for MSU, said the university is consistently ranked on the list and has placed as high as sixth.

“Among the universities in the Midwest, MSU is number two,” he said.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison topped the list with 93 graduates.

Balgoyen said there are many opportunities for students to participate and to prepare them for future volunteer work.

“We work with English tutoring agencies in East Lansing and Lansing, which is a very sought-after position because there is such a need for it,” he said. “We also work with the Olin Health Center and the Service Learning Center.”

MSU President M. Peter McPherson said he’s especially proud of the university’s latest accolade, as he too served in the Peace Corps, in Peru, during the 1960s.

“I think that’s all a part of why we’re such an internationally oriented school,” he said.

Linda Schmitz, the Peace Corps’ regional manager for the Midwest recruiting office, said MSU is one of a few universities with a strong Peace Corps presence on its campus. She said while MSU has two active recruiters on campus, there are other universities who don’t even have one.

“MSU is a very important school to the Peace Corps, as it continually provides top-quality volunteers,” she said. “We value our relationship with MSU. Having that presence on campus helps in providing a greater awareness to a greater number of students.”

This year, more than 7,300 volunteers and trainees are serving in 78 countries around the world - the largest number in 25 years.

Schmitz said that number is the result of several factors.

“One is that we, particularly in the last 10 years, have really enjoyed bipartisan support in the Congress,” she said. “We have several returnees from the Peace Corps in the Senate. We’ve been able to increase our budget and use that money for additional resources and support additional volunteers.”

Schmitz said the diversity among college programs available helps to promote the Peace Corps’ message for interested students.

“Across the nation, many universities are emphasizing service in their curriculum, as well as emphasizing international experiences,” she said. “I know President McPherson is very committed to having the highest percentage of MSU students ever having an international experience.

“The Peace Corps is finding more and more students wanting to serve and using that experience as an entry to international careers.”

For more information on the MSU Peace Corps go to www.isp.msu.edu/peacecorps.

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