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UW-Madison Back into Lead in Peace Corps Volunteers

Laura Linde, back row center, is one of 87 UW-Madison students serving abroad in the Peace Corps. She teaches science in Nicaragua. (UW-Madison)
Laura Linde, back row center, is one of 87 UW-Madison students serving abroad in the Peace Corps. She teaches science in Nicaragua. (UW-Madison)
March 20, 2017

MADISON, Wis. – An annual report just released shows that the University of Wisconsin at Madison again leads the way in the number of graduates who volunteer for service in the Peace Corps.

There are 87 UW-Madison grads currently volunteering worldwide. Last year UW-Madison was number two in the nation, and it's the third consecutive year the campus has been in the top five.

Steven Barcus, director of communications for the International Division of UW-Madison, says there's a proud tradition of public service on the campus.

"It's really an incredible opportunity for students,” he states. “They're able to build some professional skills, they're able to build intercultural competency, and it's a leadership opportunity. It's really a great way for students to have a tremendous experience and build themselves."

Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961 during the Kennedy administration, more than 3,200 UW grads have traveled the globe with the Peace Corps, making the institution the number two, all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

According to Barcus, today's students are just as dedicated to service as the young people on campus in the '60s. He says there's a lot of personal growth involved, and calls it a win for both the volunteers and the foreign nation that hosts them.

"There's a lot of benefits for the countries they're serving and there's a lot of personal benefit they take away from it,” he points out. “I think any Peace Corps volunteer would say that the person who comes back is a different person than the person who left."

Barcus says the high ranking at UW-Madison reflects well on the people of Wisconsin.

"I think one of the things that it does that we don't talk about too often is, it's also a testament to the state of Wisconsin, because these students are coming from this university,” he states. “That really is building the state's reputation, as well."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI