UW-Madison has more for Peace Corps

The University of Wisconsin-Madison contributed the most volunteers in its category to the Peace Corps in 2004, according to the international volunteer agency. Marquette, which does not compete in the same category as UW-Madison, was ranked 24th.

In 2004, there were 129 alumni with UW-Madison degrees volunteering in humanitarian organizations overseas, according to data from the Corps.

UW-Madison is in the category for large schools with over 15,000 undergraduates.

Marquette, which is in the "medium" schools division for colleges and universities with between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates, had 23 alumni in the field last year. It is tied for 24th place with four other schools: Emory University, Harvard University, Duke University and the University of Vermont.

UW-Madison has been the overall best producer of volunteers for over a decade and is second on the all-time volunteer list to the University of California-Berkeley.

UW-Madison's large yield of volunteers is due to faculty interest in international study and work and to a tradition of service and activism among students, according to Mary Rouse, director of the school's Morgridge Center for Public Service. UW-Madison also maintains a photo exhibit dedicated to Peace Corps service and is home to a half-time student Peace Corps recruiter.

While it has some 108 fewer volunteers than UW-Madison, Marquette is still a comparatively fertile ground for Peace Corps volunteers, according to Simone Bramble, a Peace Corps recruiter in Minneapolis.

Marquette "is a very Peace Corps-friendly school, and I think it has to do with the service component," Bramble said, adding that the emphasis on service Marquette instills in its students propels on average 21 to 25 of them to be in service with the Peace Corps each year.

UW-Madison produces more volunteers simply because it is a larger school, according to Bramble, who visits Milwaukee every other month or so to recruit at schools including Marquette and UW-Milwaukee.

Bramble said there does not appear to be a correlation between a school's religious affiliation, if any, and the number of Peace Corps volunteers it produces.

"Once they come to the Peace Corps, they're looking for a volunteer position that's not necessarily religious-based," Bramble said.

Most of the Marquette alums in the field today are 2003 graduates, Bramble said, and represent a broad cross-section of majors. Spanish is the most common, with four Spanish degree-bearers in service. Communications comes in second with three majors volunteering with the Peace Corps. Also represented are civil engineering, economics and philosophy, according to Peace Corps data.

Projects that Marquette alumni are currently working on include urban planning projects in Guatemala, primary education training in Uzbekistan and community development in Mali, among others.

All told, Marquette has contributed 566 graduates to Peace Corps service since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Feb. 3 2005.