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UW-Madison ranks among leaders in recruiting Peace Corps volunteers

February 18, 2015 By Kerry Hill

Photo: Collection of international flags

A collection of international flags serves as a table centerpiece during a Global House Party event sponsored by the Returned Peace Corp Volunteers of UW–Madison and Peace Corps Campus Recruiting Office in 2012. 


With 69 Badger alumni currently serving in 34 countries, the University of Wisconsin–Madison continues its tradition as one of the nation’s top producers of Peace Corps volunteers, according to the latest national rankings.

Since 2001, when the Peace Corps began releasing its annual list of top universities and colleges, UW–Madison has consistently placed in the top 10, including six years in the top spot. This year, UW–Madison ranks second.

Photo: Carrie Hessler-Radelet

Carrie Hessler-Radelet

Since 1961, when President John F. Kennedy created the agency, 3,145 UW–Madison graduates have served with the Peace Corps — a total exceeded only by the University of California, Berkeley.

“The Peace Corps provides an indispensable opportunity for young people out of college to put their unique skills to work making a difference for communities around the world,” says Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “Volunteers make lasting change by living and working at the grassroots level in their communities of service and using their talents to tackle some of the most critical challenges in international development.”

The UW–Madison graduates currently serving in the Peace Corps — 51 women and 18 men — are working in the areas of education (26), health (22), environment (11), agriculture (5), community and economic development (3), and youth in development (2).

“(The) Peace Corps has turned my whole life around,” says Lindsay Carrera of Hartland, Wisconsin, who has been serving as an education volunteer in Uganda since November 2013. “While I strive to make every day meaningful for others, I am the one truly learning the most about the world around me.”

Carrera graduated from UW–Madison in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and Italian. She credits the UW’s Morgridge Center for Public Service for inspiring her to join the Peace Corps.

Her current work includes assessing primary school curricula and working with teachers to improve literacy in the classroom. She co-directs the Student Friendly Schools program, which aims to reduce corporal punishment and violence. She also organized a gender equality project that includes a girls’ field hockey team, reproductive health training, and gender-based violence information sessions.

Nationally, the University of Washington, Seattle, ranks first this year in the number of current Peace Corps volunteers with 72. To view the top 25 rankings by category based on school size, plus digital content — such as a video featuring the top schools and an infographic about volunteers’ educational backgrounds — go to the Peace Corps website.

The 69 UW–Madison alumni are among 139 graduates of the University of Wisconsin System’s 13 four-year universities on the current roster of Peace Corps volunteers. This group also includes 13 from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which ranks 24th among medium-sized universities.

Since 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. That total includes 5,942 Wisconsin residents — with 187 Wisconsinites among current volunteers.

Last year, sweeping changes in the Peace Corps’ application and selection process led to a 22-year high in applications. The changes enable prospective volunteers to apply for specific countries and programs. Graduating college students are encouraged to browse open programs and apply by April 1 for assignments departing in fall 2015.

Photo: Eric Luckey

Eric Luckey

At UW–Madison, the Division of International Studies hosts an on-campus Peace Corps recruiter, who provides information and shares personal experiences as a volunteer.

The current campus recruiter is Eric Luckey, a graduate student who served in Mongolia. He may be contacted at 608-262-1121,, or during advising hours — Tuesdays from 1-3 p.m.and Wednesdays 10 a.m.-noon inthe Study Abroad Office (Room 106) in the Red Gym.

Interested individuals also are encouraged to follow the Peace Corps @ UW–Madison page on Facebook and/or attend an upcoming Peace Corps event, including:

  • Information: Tuesday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m., Ingraham Hall
  • Information: Tuesday, March 3, 6 p.m., Red Gym
  • Application Workshop: Wednesday, March 11, 3:30 p.m., Writing Center, Helen C. White Hall
  • Information: Thursday, April 9, 6 p.m., Memorial Union

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