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January 11, 1999

UCSC ranks 22nd in nation for sending alumni to Peace Corps

By Francine Tyler

For the first time ever, UCSC has been included in a Peace Corps "top 25" list recognizing universities and colleges with the largest number of Peace Corps volunteers serving overseas.

UCSC currently has 44 graduates serving in the Peace Corps. The campus is ranked 22nd on the "1998 List of Colleges and Universities with Graduates Currently Serving as Peace Corps Volunteers" alongside Western Washington University.

No. 1 on the list is the University of Wisconsin at Madison, with 116 graduates serving.

Four other UC campuses are included on the Peace Corps list. They are, with their ranks: UC Davis, 6; UC Berkeley, 13; UC Santa Barbara, 14; and UC San Diego, 25. The list includes U.S. colleges and universities with 5,000 or more undergraduate students. A separate list ranks institutions with less than 5,000 undergraduates.

UCSC's inclusion on the Peace Corps' "top 25" list is particularly significant because the university is relatively young, said Heidi Thoren, public affairs specialist for the Peace Corps regional office in San Francisco.

"It's a real testament to the caliber of the students at UCSC," she added.

More than 500 UCSC alumni have joined the Peace Corps since the campus was founded in 1965. Nearly 40 percent volunteer in education-related projects, said Lindsay Comeaux, a representative at the Corps' UCSC office, located at Merrill College.

Most of the UCSC volunteers are currently serving in Africa (38 percent). Another 28 percent are in Central and South America; 21 percent are in Europe, the Mediterranean, and central Asia; and 12 percent are serving in the remainder of Asia and the Pacific, Comeaux said.

The Peace Corps will be recruiting more volunteers this year than in the past 25, due to an 8 percent budget increase that brought the agency's annual budget to $240 million. More than 400 additional volunteers will be recruited in 1999, most in education and health, bringing the total number of volunteers to more than 7,400 by the end of the fiscal year.

UCSC's Peace Corps office hosts a monthly informational meeting for people who are interested in learning about joining the Corps. The meetings are held the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center Street, Santa Cruz. The next meeting is scheduled for January 13.

For more information, call the Peace Corps office at (831) 459-4470.

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