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Alumni in Peace Corps Making a Difference Abroad

Northwestern recognized as one of the top schools producing Peace Corps volunteers

  • Northwestern ranks among top mid-sized schools, universities for Peace Corps volunteerism
  • Alumnus Eric Cooper credits University with preparing him for international service
  • Cooper says he had the confidence to jump into new culture ‘to make a difference’
  • Applications for Fall 2015 assignment due April 1

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University placed in the Peace Corps’ 2015 top rankings of colleges and universities that produced volunteers in 2014, offering students an experience that can transform their lives and help others around the world.

The University was ranked in the category of mid-sized colleges and universities, with 14 graduates currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers.

Since President John F. Kennedy launched the program in 1961, 937 Northwestern alumni have volunteered abroad to help spearhead progress in developing countries and promote friendship between the American people and others throughout the world.

Among this year’s volunteers, Northwestern alumnus Eric Cooper, 23, is acting as an educational volunteer in Maxixe, Mozambique, teaching lessons on computers and chemistry to 11th-graders. Cooper also helped start a primary school and community library in the same town. A graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences from Bartlett, Ill., he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2013.

“The Peace Corps has opened my eyes,” Cooper said. “I have seen true poverty and how that affects the daily lives of people, but I also have seen people come together and support each other in ways I never thought possible.”

Cooper credits Northwestern for preparing him for international service.

“After graduating from Northwestern, I was prepared to jump into a new community, culture and environment with the confidence and determination to make a difference,” he said.

When he returns from Mozambique, Cooper plans to attend medical school with hopes of one day practicing as a pediatrician.

“My time working with children has given me the most joy,” he said. “No matter how bad my day has been, reading a book with children in the neighborhood always puts a smile on my face.”

“The Peace Corps provides an indispensable opportunity for young people out of college to put their unique skills to work making a difference for communities around the world,” said Peace Corps director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “Volunteers make lasting change by living and working at the grassroots level in their communities of service and using their talents to tackle some of the most critical challenges in international development.”

Northwestern students interested in serving in the Peace Corps can browse a list of open programs. Applications for a Fall 2015 assignment are due by April 1.

This year, the University ranked 19th among similarly sized colleges and universities in terms of number of Peace Corps volunteers.

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