Feb 282011
Authors: Allison Sylte

Had it not have been for the University of Illinois Veterinary School refusing his proposal to defer his admission for a year, CSU President Tony Frank would have joined the ranks of the many CSU-affiliated Peace Corps volunteers.

“I’m still bitter about that,” Frank said to a laughing crowd at Monday’s Peace Corps reception.

The reception, held on the second floor of the Morgan Library, served to honor the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and to kick off a slew of events over the course of March honoring CSU’s Peace Corps tradition.

In honor of the event, archivists at the Morgan Library displayed artifacts that came from an over 400-box collection left by Peace Corps co-founder and former CSU professor Maury Albertson.

The items ranged from plaques from his many awards to photos of Albertson from his personal collection to the very notebooks where his ideas for the Peace Corps came into fruition.

“Displays like this really serve to bring history to life right in front of people’s faces,” said Petty Rettig, the archivist tasked with compiling the display. “You’re no longer hearing about events, instead, you’re learning about what they left behind.”

In addition to the Maury Albertson exhibit, display cases on the second floor of the library will be dedicated to housing additional Peace Corps memorabilia for the rest of March.

“It’s a very rich collection,” said Janet Bishop, the head of archives and special collections at the Morgan Library, in reference to the photos and unique cultural items that make up the display.

CSU administrators, community members and former Peace Corps volunteers flocked to the reception, which featured short speeches by Frank, Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson and Colorado House District 54 Representative John Kefalas.

Kefalas, a CSU alumnus, volunteered for the Peace Corps in 1979, where he was stationed in El Salvador.

“I came back focused on dedicating my life to public service and making the world a better place,” Kefalas said. “The Peace Corps absolutely changed my life.”

CSU consistently ranks among the top U.S universities in terms of Peace Corps volunteers, and last year, 93 CSU students and graduates became volunteers.

Rosalie Smith, a CSU alumna, came to the reception to relive her own memories of the Peace Corps, which she didn’t join until she was 56 years old and already had five children.

She was assigned to an agricultural extension office in Thailand, and though her project didn’t quite implement the changes that she had expected, she still refers to the experience as one of the most fulfilling she had ever had.

“I was the oldest there, by far,” Smith said. “But the experience was absolutely fabulous. It was an amazing feeling to realize that you’re doing something to go out there and change the world.”

Assistant News Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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