Courtesy of Peace Corps

Lianna Kardeman '17 is volunteering in Peru working on water sanitation.

March 24, 2019

Cornell Ranked No. 18 Volunteer-Producing School in Peace Corps Report

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Jumping three positions from last year, Cornell was placed 18th among medium-sized schools in the Peace Corps’ annual ranking of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities.

Cornell’s ranking was a six-way tie with DePaul University, University of Chicago, SUNY Binghamton, Boston College and Elon University. George Washington University ranked first of all medium-sized schools, with 54 undergraduates currently serving.

Cornell currently boasts 19 alumni overseas, who are stationed across the globe from Paraguay to Moldova to China and have partaken in projects ranging from clean water engineering, permaculture and irrigation, and high school education.

Cornell shares a long-standing history with the Peace Corps, establishing a partnership in 1961 with the organization when it was founded by President John F. Kennedy. Since then, more than 1,690 Cornellians have volunteered in the program according to the press release.

Cornell has placed among the top 25 medium-size schools every year from more than a decade, according to a Peace Corps press release.

“We have seen time and again that the colleges and universities that produce the most Peace Corps volunteers focus on cultivating global citizens in addition to promoting scholarship,” said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen in the press release.

Although Cornell remains among the top volunteer-producers, the university’s position has fallen significantly from past years: The university ranked fourth in the country in 2013, with 40 serving in the Peace Corps. But in 2017, the numbers shifted dramatically — with slightly over 11 percent pursuing “other endeavors,” including volunteering.

“Peace Corps has been one of the best decisions of my life, but it too has been no walk in the park,” said Lianna Kardeman ’17, a current Peace Corps volunteer.

Kardeman, who majored in civil engineering at Cornell, now works to improve water sanitation in Peru. She was originally stationed there in 2018.

“For anyone who has experienced Cornell University [College of] Engineering, you know it is no walk in the park. It takes fierce determination and dedication,” she said. “Cornell gave me the skills and values to persevere through [this] unexpected situation and obstacles and grow and learn through them.”

In addition to its report on colleges and universities, the Peace Corps also placed Ithaca eighth among volunteer-producing metropolitan areas per capita, with 8.9 currently serving volunteers per 100,000 residents.

A complete ranking of the Peace Corps top colleges and an interactive map showing Cornell’s alumni placement can be found through the agency website.