Feb 142006
Authors: Ben Aaker

CSU was among four Colorado universities to make it into the respective top 20 list for the number of alumni volunteering in the Peace Corps.

In a list released last month of the schools with the highest number of alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps, CSU ranked 13th among large universities with 57 volunteers.

"I think CSU's involvement is wonderful," said Christy Eylar, the campus representative and recruiter for the U.S. Peace Corps. "The students here seem to have adventurous and altruistic spirits. There is a lot of international education and programs happening on our campus that help to get people interested in international involvement."

Since the Peace Corps' inception 45 years ago, 1,311 CSU alumni have joined the ranks of the Peace Corps, making the university the No. 13 producer of volunteers for all time.

Three other Colorado schools found their respective spots on the nations top 20 lists.

The University of Colorado ranked third among large universities with 82 Peace Corps members in 2005.

In the small-colleges category, Colorado College ranked 11th and the University of Denver 19th, with 20 and 18 volunteers, respectively.

For the 20th consecutive year, the University of Wisconsin at Madison had the most graduates go on to the Peace Corps, with 104 in 2005.

The Peace Corps is a nationwide volunteer effort that involves U.S. citizens – over the age of 18 – in international relief projects ranging from HIV/AIDS education and prevention to information technology, business development and environmental preservation.

Currently, there are more than 7,500 volunteers serving in 71 countries.

Sage Handyside, a senior double majoring in business management and political science, is considering joining the Peace Corps.

"I have several areas of interest overseas and the Peace Corps would give me the opportunity to both gain experience and help people," Handyside said. "You know, 'kill two birds with one stone.'"

Eylar also acknowledges the many benefits that a term with the Peace Corps can bring – even after the experience itself.

"You gain great skills for going into the job market when you come back," Eylar said. "Employers really look highly upon people who are able to live and work in a foreign country for two years."

Shauna Burnsilver, a CSU professor and Peace Corps volunteer, understands the growth one can undergo as a result of the Peace Corps.

"When you come out of college you have a base of knowledge but you don't really know how to apply it," she said. "That's where the Peace Corps can be beneficial; it gives people the real life experience to apply the kind of knowledge vice that that they gain in college."

Burnsilver graduated with a degree in International Relations from Scripps College in 1987 and joined the Peace Corps one month later.

Since then, she has served in Mali, West Africa, as an agriculture extension volunteer and trainer for the Peace Corps.

Ben Aaker can be reached at campus@collegian.com.


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