By Irina Liberman '06
This year, Mount Holyoke has moved up five spots in the Peace Corps ranking of top-producing schools to number 8 on the top-25 list of small schools. Currently 21 alumnae serve as volunteers, according to Gaddi H. Vasquez, Peace Corps director. Since its inception in 1961, 128 MHC alumnae have joined the ranks of the Peace Corps.
"Students recognize the offerings of the Peace Corps as a solid opportunity, a trusted opportunity, and a chance to expand their own horizons," said David Machowski, MHC's director of recruiting and employer relations. "The corps has long given students a chance to explore other cultures, learn, and be able to offer a helping hand. In exchange for the two-year commitment, a student gets a chance for some world travel, great experiences, and even some exit pay for when coming back to the States."
After graduation many students are looking for ways to explore, try out different fields and industries, and learn new cultures. Paige Ryland '06, who is a Peace Corps candidate, said she wants to work in public health and hopes that the Peace Corps will give her insight into the international health field. She believes that seeing a different system of government, education, and healthcare will broaden the areas in which she wants to work. Ryland has been assigned to sub-Saharan Africa where she will teach science. Though she still doesn't know the exact location, or what precisely she will be doing, she is extremely excited about this opportunity. "I love working with people, and whether or not I'm crazy about the specific job I end up doing, serving in the Peace Corps will be greatly beneficial not only for the people whom I am serving but also for myself," Ryland said.
The Peace Corps recruiters are just as excited about interviewing Mount Holyoke women. Nancy Gilbert, New England regional recruiter, admits she loves recruiting at Mount Holyoke and always looks forward to it. "I have found Mount Holyoke women to be sincere, detail-oriented, responsible, and responsive throughout the application process," Gilbert said. "The types of questions they ask usually stretch far beyond the common questions that we get that relate to geographic preference or the like. The kinds of questions they ask me have to do with how they can be a better Peace Corps volunteer to be most effective in their service."
Machowski agrees that what differentiates Mount Holyoke women is their understanding of the true meaning of Peace Corps commitment and their willingness to make a difference: "Mount Holyoke has moved up in the rankings with the Peace Corps because we have had a good number of students interested, but also interested for the 'right reasons,' in that they are getting involved knowing why and what it means and not just simply looking for something to do after graduation."
Peace Corps Web Site
Peace Corps Face Sheet (PDF)
Top Peace Corps Universities and Colleges (PDF)