Jan 172010
Authors: Stacey K. Borage

Peace Corps applications risen 19 percent from last year, said Elliot Cooper, a CSU recruiter for the Peace Corps, “And it’s still rising,” he said.

Cooper speculated that it may be because the job market is as appealing.

“I’ve dealt with (a few) people that have applied for Peace Corps because they couldn’t find a job after college,” he said. “Getting a job is not that easy anymore. Usually you go into an interview, show them your degree and you got it. That’s just not the case anymore.”

Last year the Peace Corps nominated 45 people to volunteer overseas. In fact, in 2007, CSU was in the top 15 universities to turn alumni into volunteers, according to a CSU press release.

“Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, 1,466 Colorado State alumni have volunteered,” the press release said.

But the Peace Corps does more than give its volunteers something to do over the next 27 months. Instead, they come out with peace of mind and real world experience.

Like senior Jonathan Hayden, many graduates who look to go into the Peace Corps are looking forward to the adventure of going to live in another country and adapting to its customs.

“(The) Peace Corps is one way to do something off the grid that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do, going to places you wouldn’t even dream of going and be able to offer services to help that community develop something new,” he said.

Hayden graduates in May and intends to leave for the Peace Corps in September. But this opportunity is more than just an extended vacation for him.

“It’s about learning and opening your eyes to a new experience (while) accepting and understanding other people’s way of life and their culture,” he said.

Graduate Derek Lowstuter, who plans to volunteer in July with his wife, agrees.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he said. “It’s a big commitment, but you get a lot out of it.”

Lowstuter intends to get a master’s degree out of the Peace Corps, which offers a program so volunteers can apply real world experience toward a degree. He earned his bachelor’s degree in natural resource management with a minor in forestry last December.

“I didn’t just want to (go) into the forest service,” he said. “Right off the bat, I wanted to actually go out there and get some field experience. I wanted to understand the world a little better, on how forestry can be applied to help people and prove their livelihood.”

But don’t go packing your things quite yet after you fill out the application.

“The whole process from when you apply to when you’re shipped off is about nine months to a year,” Cooper said. “You still have to clear legal and medical hurdles as well. That’s why the process takes so long.”

Once the applicant gets the OK to go, working for the Peace Corps has additional benefits like improving your resum�.

“It makes returning volunteers more competitive in the job market, especially for federal jobs,” Lowstuter said. Considering the current state of the job market, everybody wins, he said.

“It’s not just working behind a desk,” Cooper said. “When you get back, any employer that sees that you’ve been in the Peace Corps says, ‘Wow.’ It’ll boost your resum� like you would not believe.”

But the Peace Corps is having a hard time placing people with a business degree without at least two years of college-level Spanish or one year of college-level French.

“Right now, we’re looking for agriculture specialists and nutrition specialists,” he said. “Come one, come all.”

Staff writer Stacey K. Borage can be reached at csumag@lamar.colostate.edu.

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