Peace Corps ranks UC Berkeley as No. 1 volunteer-producing university

The Peace Corps ranks UC Berkeley as No. 1 volunteer-producing university

With more than 3,750 alumni volunteers from UC Berkeley, the Peace Corps recognized UC Berkeley as the university that sent the most volunteers over the last two decades.

The Peace Corps identified UC Berkeley as its top volunteer-producing university over the past 20 years, with a total of 3,763 alumni volunteers.

Kerry Carmichael (Ecuador 1992-94)

Kerry Carmichael (Ecuador 1992-94), senior recruiter and UC Berkeley representative for the Peace Corps, was unsurprised by this news, noting campus’ long-standing relationship with the organization. Given the Peace Corps’ emphasis on serving communities, Carmichael also pointed to campus’ history of social justice activism as an important factor in its involvement.

“UC Berkeley students have, through their education and their individual experience, a perspective of the world that’s bigger than just their campus,” Carmichael said. “Also ingrained in students at UC Berkeley is that ethic of service, volunteering and being involved.”

The top 25 volunteer-producing universities include eight schools that incorporate a Peace Corps Prep program which trains students to become competent volunteers, according to a Peace Corps press release. Carmichael noted the UC system has a Peace Corps Prep program of its own, making candidates who earn the certificate more competitive during the application process.

Legal studies lecturer Bruno Meyerhof Salama views the Peace Corps positively, noting they promote international peace and opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration between the United States and developing nations.

“It reflects the goodwill and enthusiasm of many of our students with issues connected to development as well as their curiosity with the world out there,” Salama said in an email. “Engaging with international organizations can help them build credentials, establish relationships, and acquire useful knowledge and experience.”

This ranking highlights campus enthusiasm for working with global communities, according to Chetan Chowdhry, director of student programs at the Blum Center for Developing Economies.

However, Chowdhry also pointed out some controversies surrounding the Peace Corps. In particular, Chowdry cited critiques that it may fall short in preparing volunteers to embark on necessary self-exploration and deep understandings of the communities they are involved in.

Chowdry nonetheless believes UC Berkeley students are well-equipped to incorporate their education to effectively engage with various communities.


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  • While I am not a UC Berkeley Grad, my own Peace Corps experience in Kenya (67-70) clearly helped prepare me for a career in international educational exchange, culminating in my service as UC Berkeley International House Executive Director for two decades. Thereafter, the institution created the endowed, annual RPCV Joe Lurie Fellowship , descibed below. I am especially pleased that it deepens the connection between many of the values that the Peace Corps, UC Berkeley and International House share:


    The Joe Lurie Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Gateway Fellowship Endowment is an annual Fellowship preferably for entering PhD students who are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. This fund provides an annual International House single-occupancy room and board academic year award to an entering first year Returned Peace Corps doctoral student at UC Berkeley. The UC Berkeley Graduate Division will match this with a $5,000 stipend, and tuition & fees paid by the entering student’s academic department for the first academic year.

    When no eligible RPCV PhD CANDIDATE has been identified, entering RPCV Masters degree candidates will be considered for an academic year single occupancy full room and board award at International House; and may be considered, academic departmental budget permitting, for assistance with tuition and fees. Interested applicants who have been accepted at the University of California at Berkeley in a Graduate Program, should email their interest to to include their academic department, Graduate Student Advisor’s contact information & whether they have asked their department to nominate them or not for consideration. Deans or Graduate Advisors may nominate a candidate in January of each year by visiting the Financial Aid section of the I-House website at

    Fellowship applicants may seek further information by visiting the Gateway Fellowship Program section on the website at :

    This fellowship is named in honor of Joe Lurie, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served with distinction as I-House’s third Executive Director from 1988-July,2007.

    Joe Lurie, Emeritus Executive Director
    UCB International House

  • I was lucky enough to be one of the early ones from Cal, serving in Nepal from 1963-65. There were two Volunteers in my PC group from Stanford, so I had to take up some slack! Go, Bears! Go out to the wide, wide world. Will Newman

  • That’s just the last 20 years! Berkeley has been the leader for most of the last sixty years since the Peace Corps was founded. Love to know that number. Go Bears!

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