Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

DU moves up in Peace Corps’ ranking of top colleges

This year, the University of Denver moved up 10 spots to No. 9 on the top 25 list for small schools producing Peace Corps volunteers. Currently, 20 DU alumni serve as Peace Corps volunteers.

In the second annual graduate school rankings, the University of Denver was ranked No. 3 with 18 alumni with advanced degrees currently serving as volunteers. Schools are ranked according to the size of the student body. Small schools are those with fewer than 5,000 undergraduates. 

Among DU’s alumni who’ve made the 27-month Peace Corps commitment is master’s candidate Jason Gilpin, who will serve in Ukraine starting in mid-March. Gilpin will help nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations and businesses navigate the paperwork that can help them connect to resources, such as government agencies and universities. 

Gilpin, a Graduate School of International Studies student, anticipates getting his degree in international administration in fall 2009 after completing a paper about his Peace Corps’ experience.

“I’ve wanted to join the Peace Corps since I was six years old,” says Gilpin, who credits the movie Volunteers (1985) with grabbing his interest in service. 

After Peace Corps, Gilpin hopes to help businesses in developed countries do business in undeveloped countries in “sustainable, ethical way that’s good for the host countries.” 

Over the last four years, the Graduate School of International Studies has partnered with the Peace Corps to offer returning volunteers credit towards a graduate degree for their volunteer experience. Or, students like Gilpin can pursue an international administration degree before they embark on their Peace Corps service and have 18 credit hours waived.

“It’s the only program I found in the country where I could learn NGO management, go to Peace Corps and apply it in the field and get credit waived,” says Gilpin, “so I’m saving money as well.”

Molly Bogan and RaeJean Stokes served in the Peace Corps before attending DU as master’s candidates in international development.

Bogan served in Paraguay in 2003–05, little more than a decade after the nation established a constitutional democracy. Infrastructure, such as landfills and sewer systems, and services like health care were being handed over to local municipalities for the first time. 

“I found that I’d done a lot of economic development in my undergrad, but economic development doesn’t have much meaning if you don’t have health care,” Bogan says.

Stokes’ service had her teaching English to middle and high school students in Ukraine in 2003–05. Before that, she says she wanted to be a doctor or journalist, but the experience in the country where her grandfather was born sparked an interest in returning to that part of the world.

This summer, Stokes will intern at the U.S. embassy in Kiev.

Since Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, 253 DU alumni have joined the ranks.

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