IU Bloomington ranks seventh nationally in number of alumni who volunteer for the Peace Corps

  • Feb. 18, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington has moved up 13 positions to No. 7 in the Peace Corps' annual list of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities nationwide.

This is the third consecutive year that IU Bloomington has been on the list. This year, 47 IU Bloomington alumni are making a difference as Peace Corps volunteers, up from 36 in 2015.

Since the Peace Corps was created in 1961, 1,653 IU alumni have served overseas with the agency. IU ranks fourth among all Big Ten universities this year.

“The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world,” said Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “Today’s graduates understand the importance of intercultural understanding and are raising their hands in record numbers to take on the challenge of international service.”

The 30 percent increase in the number of IU alumni entering the Peace Corps this year is consistent with goals set out in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, to increase IU's international engagement and continue its historical commitment to institution-building around the globe.

One IU Bloomington alumna making a difference is Jenny Wininger, a 2007 graduate with distinction from the School of Education, with a degree in elementary education.

Wininger, 35, from Indianapolis, has been serving in Thailand as an education volunteer since January 2015. She leads a health education program in local primary schools, teaches aerobics to community members and has led two girls’ camps to promote self-esteem and leadership in young women.

“Indiana University helped me deepen my understanding and appreciation for not only teaching and helping at a local level, but to look for opportunities on a global scale,” said Wininger, who also credits her brother, Kyle Runnels, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, for inspiring her to find her own way to serve her country.

“I owe much gratitude to my professors and experiences at Indiana University,” she added. “The insight they provided helped further mold my understanding that we all have something to contribute. We can all grow as we learn from one another. Together, anything is attainable.”

For returning Peace Corps volunteers, IU Bloomington offers both Peace Corps Master’s International and Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate programs. The Coverdell Fellows program offers the opportunity for Peace Corps volunteers who have completed their service to earn an advanced degree from IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, with financial assistance and the chance to use their knowledge and skills in community internships.

The Peace Corps Master’s International graduate programs, offered by SPEA and the School of Education, allow students to combine Peace Corps service with graduate studies for credit.

“The School of Public and Environmental Affairs prepares leaders and advances knowledge for the greater good, and you can see the proof of that in our strong and growing partnership with the Peace Corps,” said Robert Kravchuk, professor and director of the Master of Public Affairs Program at the school. “Our students are motivated to join the Peace Corps, and we’re eager to welcome them home to join our vibrant group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. They enrich our classrooms and our community.”

This year’s rankings follow a 40-year high in applications for the Peace Corps in 2015. This record-breaking number comes after the first full year that the agency implemented historic reforms allowing applicants to choose the countries and assignments they’d like to be considered for. Graduating college students are encouraged to browse open programs and apply by April 1 for assignments departing fall 2016.

About 130 Indiana residents are currently serving in the Peace Corps, and 3,308 have served since the agency was created in 1961.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to address the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work with their community members at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions to challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a lifelong commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow the Peace Corps' Facebook page and the Peace Corps on Twitter.

Related Links

IU alumna Jenny Wininger, center, has been serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand since January 2015.

IU alumna Jenny Wininger, center, has been serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand since January 2015.

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Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

  • IU Communications
  • Office 812-855-0846
  • Cell 812-345-1500
  • vlahakis@iu.edu
  • IU Inc.

Jim Hanchett

  • School of Public and Environmental Affairs
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  • jimhanch@indiana.edu

Heather Mangan

Public affairs specialist

  • Peace Corps, Midwest Regional Office
  • Office 312-353-1126
  • hmangan@peacecorps.gov