By Melohn Johnson-Williams
For The Diamondback
The University of Maryland once again claimed a spot on the Peace Corps' annual list of top volunteer-producing colleges, ranking No. 15 among 25 large universities.
It's the seventh year in a row this university has ranked among the top large schools, said Peace Corps Public Affairs Specialist Emily Webb, although it dropped down from the No. 11 spot last year.
This university sent 42 alumni to volunteer overseas in 2016, according to news released last month. Since the program's creation in 1961, there have been 1,242 alumni involved in the program.
"The high number of Terps consistently serving in the Peace Corps reflects very well on the culture of service promoted on the UMD campus," said Kyle Kastler, this university's Peace Corps recruiter.
This university falls behind six other Big Ten schools, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which topped the list with 87 volunteers. No other schools within the University System of Maryland was ranked, though St. Mary's College of Maryland came in fourth place among small colleges.
Kastler said he and his team have been trying to get the word out about the Peace Corps through various workshops and informational chat sessions at the Career Center in Hornbake Library. But Kastler said he doesn't have to do much formal recruiting – many students at this university are already applying without him telling them about the opportunity.
"One of the great things about the Peace Corps is that there is no 'typical' volunteer," said Kastler, who volunteered in Central Asia in 2010.
Kaitlyn Moberly, a 2013 alumna, is serving in Nepal as a food security volunteer. She said her time at this university, during which she studied abroad in India and worked at a local hospital, was good preparation for the Peace Corps.
"It was a great introduction to having professionalism in a new culture, time management, and a taste of how it felt to be so far away from home," Moberly said in a news release.
The benefits of volunteering are unique for every student, Kastler said. Volunteers receive a living stipend and are eligible for student loan deferment or forgiveness and medical care.
"The Peace Corps is an awesome time to gain some professional experience in a global context after graduating from undergraduate studies, but before pursuing a full time job or graduate studies," Kastler said.