Published: Feb. 5, 2013

No. 6 producer of Peace Corps volunteers

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Stephanie Motschenbacher Advancement office: (517) 884-1129 cell: (517) 648-9945

For the 13th year in a row, Michigan State University has earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing large universities across the country.

With 76 graduates currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers, the university ranks 10th. Since the agency was created in 1961, 2,300 alums have served overseas, making MSU the No. 6 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

“Every year, graduates of colleges and universities across the United States are making a difference in communities overseas through Peace Corps service,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Peace Corps Volunteer, Western Samoa, 1981-83). “As a result of the top-notch education they receive, these graduates are well prepared for the challenge of international service. They become leaders in their host communities and carry the spirit of service and leadership back with them when they return home.”

Peace Corps volunteer Shannon O’Brien, of Washington, Mich., graduated from MSU in May 2011 and is currently serving as a youth development volunteer in Ukraine, helping to develop a leadership training program for staff and students at the small college.

While a student at MSU, O’Brien, 23, studied abroad in Peru, Ecuador and China, experiences that she says ultimately led her to Peace Corps.

“The Peru program opened my eyes and, really, changed my life,” O’Brien said. “It was an interdisciplinary program that brought together students from a variety of backgrounds and gave us the opportunity to put our studies into practice through volunteerism with community organizations, and real-life application of a research project. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I had at MSU.”

MSU offers Peace Corps master’s international programs in the areas of agriculture economics; crop and soil sciences; and community, agriculture, recreation and resource study. The programs allow students to combine Peace Corps service with graduate studies for credit.

Peace Corps also works with MSU to host two on-campus recruiters. Elizabeth Hunt, who served in Niger, and Marisa Rinkus, who served in Guatemala, can be reached at (517) 432-7474 and

There will be three public Peace Corps information sessions this semester: 6 p.m. Feb. 20, International Center, Room 305; 6 p.m. March 19, International Center, Room 303; and 6 p.m. April 17, location TBD.

Michigan is among the top-producing states for volunteers, and 316 Michigan residents are currently serving in the Peace Corps. Overall, 6,866 Michigan residents have served since the agency was created in 1961.

Nationally, the University of Washington and the University of Florida outpaced other large universities, with 107 undergraduate alumni from each school currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers.

Graduating college students are encouraged to apply by Feb. 28 for remaining assignment openings for 2013, and the chance to be considered for programs in early 2014.


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