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Grads choose Peace Corps service in record numbers

February 04, 2009

A bachelor’s degree in supply chain management from ASU’s W.P. Carey School was the ticket to a high-paying job in the spring of 2006. The specialty is one of the hottest majors in the business school, and the U.S. economy was flying.

Jonathan Stall had other plans, however. He tucked his newly-minted degree under his arm and joined the Peace Corps, moving to a small village in Ghana for two years to help the locals develop their tourism business.

“It seemed like it would be a unique experience, an adventure,” says Stall, who returned from Ghana in November 2008. “It gave me a chance to do something meaningful. I knew it might be harder to do later. I’m glad I did it.”

Currently Stall is applying for temporary jobs, hoping for a summer internship in Washington, D.C.

ASU was named the top producer of Peace Corps volunteers in Arizona, in the annual list of Peace Corps’ “Top Colleges and Universities,” released last month. Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, 813 ASU alumni have served in the Peace Corps. This year ASU barely edged out the University of Arizona, with 41 volunteers currently serving compared to UA’s 39.

The Peace Corps saw a 16 percent increase in applications for fiscal year 2009, the largest increase in five years. A Peace Corps recruiter will be at ASU from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 25, in the Memorial Union Pinal Room.

ASU currently has alumni serving in 29 countries, with the highest concentration in Albania (three). Two graduates each are posted in Bulgaria, China, Dominican Republic, Eastern Caribbean, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. The majority of ASU volunteers are working in education and business development.

Paul Wade, who graduated from ASU with a political science degree in 2007, arrived in Macedonia last September and has been working as an English language resource teacher. He says he was motivated to apply for the Peace Corps because of his interest in emerging democracies and creating sustainable economies.

“I’ve wanted to join the Peace Corps since high school, and I was finally able to join,” he says.

Daniel Ernesto Delgadillo is currently in Kenya, living with a host family to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. This month he will begin teaching computer literacy to small business owners in his community. He graduated from ASU with a bachelor of science in psychology last May.   

Tiffany Dodson, who received a degree in history in December 2008, just learned last month that she had been accepted into the Peace Corps. She’ll be leaving at the end of May for Romania, where she will teach English to secondary school students. 

“It’s something I’ve been planning since I was 17, when my mom first suggested it to me,” says Dodson. “I like the idea of being able to help people and represent my country. It’s a bit daunting, but it’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.”  

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Currently there are more than 3,000 colleges and universities with alumni serving as volunteers in 76 countries worldwide. 

“The Peace Corps relies heavily on the graduates of contributing schools from across the country,” says Ron Tschetter, director. “Their education and experiences add to the diversity of the Peace Corps and its success in the host countries.”