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UW-Madison is Second-Largest Producer of Peace Corps Volunteers

Rita Argus, a UW-Madison graduate and Peace Corps volunteer, is using her degree in biological systems engineering to improve sustainable agriculture in Senegal. (William Graf, UW-Madison)
Rita Argus, a UW-Madison graduate and Peace Corps volunteer, is using her degree in biological systems engineering to improve sustainable agriculture in Senegal. (William Graf, UW-Madison)
February 24, 2016

MADISON, Wis. - Throughout the history of the Peace Corps, started in 1961 by President Kennedy, UW-Madison has been one of the nation's leading sources of volunteers.

For a second consecutive year, it's the number-two school, and it has held the number-one spot six times since 2001.

Heather Mangan, public affairs specialist for the Peace Corps, says it has to do with the UW's emphasis on service, and on making a global impact.

"We also just seem to see a lot of people at UW-Madison who are passionate about helping other people and taking the things that they've learned in Madison and using them in other parts of the world," says Mangan.

Right now there are 68 UW-Madison alumni currently in the field as Peace Corps volunteers.

Sixteen graduates of UW-Stevens Point and 14 from UW-La Crosse are also in the field. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, more than 6,000 Wisconsin residents have served in the Corps.

Even though the Peace Corps dates back to the Kennedy administration, Mangan says the concept of volunteering still resonates among today's students.

"The idea to give back and to take the things that we've been so privileged to have in the U.S. and use those to help other people - that hasn't gone anywhere," she says. "That's still how young people feel, and we have seen record numbers in applications because of it."

Applications for the Peace Corps hit a 40-year high in 2015.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI