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Carleton Earns Spot on Peace Corps’ Annual Top Schools Rankings

February 14, 2014

Chicago––For the third year in a row, Carleton College has earned a spot on Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing small colleges and universities across the country. With 16 alumni currently serving overseas as Peace Corps volunteers, the school ranks No. 3, up five spots from last year.

Since the agency was created in 1961, 489 Carleton graduates have made a difference as Peace Corps volunteers. This marks the third time since 2003 Carleton has ranked in the top five for number of volunteers among small colleges, and the seventh time it has placed in the top 10.

“The same passion that launched the Peace Corps more than 50 years ago fuels progress in developing countries today, thanks to the leadership and creativity that college graduates bring to their Peace Corps service,” Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “The unique Peace Corps experience helps recent graduates cultivate highly sought-after skills that will launch their careers in today’s global economy.”

Carleton alum Laura Sofen ‘10, of Lexington, Mass., has been serving as an agriculture volunteer in Panama since April 2011. She works with farmers in her local community to improve crop production, focusing on rice paddy and fish pond construction.

“At Carleton, I developed skills to learn new information from a variety of sources and learned how to creatively adapt prior knowledge to new situations,” said Sofen, who earned her degree in chemistry. “These are very valuable skills for living and working as a professional in a remote area with a foreign culture, language, and climate.”

Nationally, the University of Wisconsin-Madison outpaced large universities with more than 15,000 undergraduates, with 90 alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers. Among midsized schools with populations between 5,000 and 15,000 undergrads, Western Washington University ranked No. 1 with 65 alumni serving.  For small schools such as Carleton with fewer than 5,000 undergrads, Gonzaga University topped the list, with 22 graduates currently serving. You can view the entire top 25 rankings for each school size category here.

Four other Minnesota colleges made the list. Of small schools, Macalester College tied Carleton at No. 3, each with 16 volunteers in the field. St. Olaf College ranked sixth with 15 volunteers, and the College of St. Benedict has 11 alumni volunteers and ranks No. 23. Also, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities ranks No. 10 among large universities and has 57 alumni volunteers.

Service in the Peace Corps is a life-defining, hands-on leadership experience that offers volunteers the opportunity to travel to the farthest corners of the world and work on sustainable development projects related to agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development.

Peace Corps makes a difference not only to the communities served, but also to the volunteers themselves, who return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, and language skills that position them for advanced education and professional opportunities in today’s global job market. Ninety percent of volunteer positions require a bachelor's degree. Volunteers receive paid living expenses and full health and dental coverage while overseas, and upon completing their 27-month service they are eligible for graduate school programs and federal hiring benefits.

Graduating college students are encouraged to apply by March 1 for remaining assignment openings for 2014, and the chance to be considered for programs in early 2015.

Twin Cities-based Peace Corps recruiter Janice McInerney, a returned volunteer who served in Ukraine, advises Carleton candidates and can be reached at

Approximately 206 Minnesota residents are currently serving in the Peace Corps, with the Twin Cities among the top metro areas nationwide in producing volunteers. Overall, 6,387 Minnesota residents have served since the agency was created in 1961.

About the Peace Corps: As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. When they return home, volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences – and a global outlook – back to the United States, enriching the lives of those around them. President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to foster a better understanding among Americans and people of other countries. Since then, more than 215,000 Americans of all ages have served in 139 countries worldwide. Visit to learn more.