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‘Measurable impact’: Peace Corps ranks UC Berkeley as No. 1 volunteer-producing university

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With more than 3,750 alumni volunteers from UC Berkeley, the Peace Corps recognized UC Berkeley as the university that sent the most volunteers over the last two decades.


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MAY 28, 2023

The Peace Corps identified UC Berkeley as its top volunteer-producing university over the past 20 years, with a total of 3,763 alumni volunteers.

Kerry Carmichael, senior recruiter and UC Berkeley representative for the Peace Corps, was unsurprised by this news, noting campus’ long-standing relationship with the organization. Given the Peace Corps’ emphasis on serving communities, Carmichael also pointed to campus’ history of social justice activism as an important factor in its involvement.

“UC Berkeley students have, through their education and their individual experience, a perspective of the world that’s bigger than just their campus,” Carmichael said. “Also ingrained in students at UC Berkeley is that ethic of service, volunteering and being involved.”

The top 25 volunteer-producing universities include eight schools that incorporate a Peace Corps Prep program which trains students to become competent volunteers, according to a Peace Corps press release. Carmichael noted the UC system has a Peace Corps Prep program of its own, making candidates who earn the certificate more competitive during the application process.

Legal studies lecturer Bruno Meyerhof Salama views the Peace Corps positively, noting they promote international peace and opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration between the United States and developing nations.

“It reflects the goodwill and enthusiasm of many of our students with issues connected to development as well as their curiosity with the world out there,” Salama said in an email. “Engaging with international organizations can help them build credentials, establish relationships, and acquire useful knowledge and experience.”

This ranking highlights campus enthusiasm for working with global communities, according to Chetan Chowdhry, director of student programs at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

However, Chowdhry also pointed out some controversies surrounding the Peace Corps. In particular, Chowdry cited critiques that it may fall short in preparing volunteers to embark on necessary self-exploration and deep understandings of the communities they are involved in.

Chowdry nonetheless believes UC Berkeley students are well-equipped to incorporate their education to effectively engage with various communities.

“UC Berkeley students particularly are some of the best suited to pursue work like that because they will bring their own critical perspective and ethics that come from their education going into something like a Peace Corps,” Chowdry said.

Rather than giving money or building things, Carmichael noted that Peace Corps volunteers work on community-centered projects to create “lasting and measurable impact.”

Charmichael added that because these projects are powered within the communities themselves, they are more sustainably driven.

“What separates the UC Berkeley students from others is understanding the value of the Peace Corps in not only what you as a volunteer can offer a community, but also what the Peace Corps will do for them,” Carmichael said.

Contact Isabelle Nunes at 


MAY 28, 2023