February 19, 2014

Cornell Leads Ivies in Number Of Peace Corps Alumni

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Topping all Ivy League schools, Cornell ranked fifth nationally among medium-sized universities in having the highest number of alumni who serve in the Peace Corps, according to the University.

There are currently 29 Cornell alumni volunteers serving around the world, according to a University press release. Ithaca is also the metropolitan area with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita, according to a December University press release.“I was ready for an adventure and a challenge I could feel good about.” — Evan Delahanty ’07

The University’s relatively high number of volunteers is due to the diverse educational background and specific skills of the student body, which are “directly applicable to Peace Corps service,” said Patrick Starr, Cornell’s Peace Corps coordinator.

“The conjunction of courses of study in the agricultural school and various internationally focused majors lend themselves very well to Peace Corps service,” Starr said. “And the Peace Corps is a great way to launch a career in many of these fields.”

Evan Delahanty ’07, a former Peace Corps volunteer, said he is not surprised by the number of volunteers who hail from Cornell.

“Cornell produces a lot of Peace Corps volunteers because it is a good school that attracts people with well-rounded interests and ambitions outside the classic career equation,” Delahanty said. “It attracts the kind of practical do-gooders with an eye toward their own futures that the Peace Corps is ideal for.”

Delahanty, who served in a small village in the South American country of Suriname in 2012, said he joined the organization due to his strong aptitude for service. He completed multiple projects while abroad, which ranged from assisting a local youth group to stimulating renewable energy.

“I joined the Peace Corps because I felt like I had more value to offer to myself and the world than I was capturing with my standard career,” Delahanty said. “I was ready for an adventure and a challenge I could feel good about.”

Danielle Stoermer MPS ’13, who served in Senegal for the Peace Corps from 2009 to 2013, said Cornell has a strong presence in the organization due to the service-oriented nature of the students.

“Cornell produces so many Peace Corps volunteers because of its strong international programs and because the students who attend Cornell are very service oriented and interested in giving back to their communities,” she said.

Stoermer added that she was able to gain life experiences that differ from the typical classroom education by joining the Peace Corps.

“I have gained … a better understanding of how to design and implement effective development programs, a new family and lots of friends and a continued desire to keep working in international agricultural development,” Stoermer said.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Danielle Stoermer earned a M.D. degree. In fact, Danielle Stoermer earned her MPS in 2013.