St. Olaf earns spot on Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings
St. Olaf College has once again earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities.
With 15 alumni currently serving overseas as Peace Corps volunteers, St. Olaf ranks No. 6 among schools enrolling fewer than 5,000 students (St. Olaf enrolls 3,000).
St. Olaf has appeared on the Peace Corps’ Top Schools list every year but one since the rankings started in 2001. For the past seven years, it has placed in the top 10 small schools — and the past five years has consistently been in the top 3.
St. Olaf also reached a milestone this year in its all-time volunteer count, topping 500 alumni volunteers. Since the Peace Corps was established in 1961, 501 St. Olaf graduates have served.
As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to work on sustainable development projects related to agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development.
The Peace Corps makes a difference not only to the communities served, but also to the volunteers themselves, who return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, and language skills that position them for advanced education and professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
Eric Rahman ’11 is currently serving as an economic development volunteer in Madagascar. He works with a youth fruit-drying cooperative and a farming association to provide training on business development and management practices, and he’s also helped coordinate youth camps that address gender-equality issues. Rahman was inspired by his parents, both St. Olaf alumni who also served in the Peace Corps.
“The most transformative part of a St. Olaf education is the community,” says Rahman, who majored in political science and economics at St. Olaf. “The academic experience at St. Olaf undoubtedly pushes students to reach and think beyond themselves, but it is the broader St. Olaf community that reinforces those values and truly prepares students to explore opportunities to give back and seek a challenge abroad.”
Three other Minnesota colleges made the small schools list. Carleton College and Macalester College tied at No. 3, each with 16 volunteers in the field. The College of St. Benedict has 11 alumni volunteers and ranks No. 23.