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Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

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Whitties opt for Peace Corps

“We are now, more than ever, living in a global economy,” said Maria Lee, regional public affairs Specialist for the Peace Corps. According to Lee, this shift means that more employers are seeking out individuals who are “globally minded, multilingual, cultured, traveled, agile and experienced.” Whitties opt for Peace Corps | Photo by Eduardo Duquez

Whitman students are rising to the challenge. According to a 2007 press release, Whitman now ranks number 12 of the top 25 small colleges and universities nationwide for number of alumni serving in the Peace Corps, up from 16 in 2006. With 19 alumni volunteers currently stationed overseas, Whitman tied with Grinnell College and Wesleyan University in the rankings. The University of Puget Sound was ranked first in the small schools category, while the University of Washington topped any other college or university in the nation.

The Pacific Northwest has established an excellent reputation for producing candidates. “Traditionally, we’ve always been a really good region for recruitment of Peace Corps volunteers,” said Lee in an interview earlier this year with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “I think it speaks a lot to the legacy of service that has always existed in this region. We’ve always been a progressive region, very active, very interested in social causes.”

Chad Wesen, a recruiter who visited campus on Wednesday, Oct. 24, praised the Whitman student body for its consistent interest in the Peace Corps. Since the organization’s inception in 1961, as a government agency under the Kennedy administration, the Peace Corps has accepted 274 Whitman graduates into its program.

Volunteers dedicate a minimum of 27 months to training and service in their designated location. The Peace Corps serves 139 countries in eight geographical regions throughout the world, from Central America to the Pacific Islands. Currently, there are more than 7,000 volunteers and trainees active in the program.

Although a college degree is not a requirement, 93 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are college graduates. “Universities have reengineered their curriculums to focus more on the world,” Lee said.

“Many have added or started to focus on study abroad programs and international business classes.”
In addition to the cultural enrichment volunteers gain, serving overseas can also be a very smart way to impress future employers. “It has become very important in the last five years to have an international experience like the Peace Corps,” said Lee. With international tensions high and the domestic job market growing more competitive, it is an experience in which many Whitman students may do well to invest.

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