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Furman among top colleges for producing Peace Corps volunteers

The Peace Corps announced today that Furman University is among the agency’s top volunteer-producing colleges and universities in 2019.

Furman is ranked No. 15 among “small-size” schools with undergraduate enrollments under 5,000. There are currently 10 Furman alumni volunteering in countries around the world.

This is the first year that Furman has ranked among the top 20 small-size schools. Since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961, more than 130 Furman graduates have served abroad as volunteers.

The Peace Corps, which sends Americans abroad to work with communities and create lasting change, also recognized the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities in the large (more than 15,000 undergraduates) and medium (5,000 – 15,000 undergraduate) categories.

The Peace Corps’ Kristina Benson, who graduated from Furman in 2017 with a degree in sustainability science and Asian studies, is serving as a food security volunteer in Nepal.

“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. “I am proud that so many graduates of these esteemed institutions leverage their educations to make the world a better place. They bring critical skills to communities around the world and gain hands-on, life-changing experience along the way.

In announcing Furman’s ranking, the Peace Corps cited alums William Bacharach ’15, who is serving as a health volunteer in Guinea, and Kristina Benson ’17, a food security volunteer in Nepal.

“Our students develop a passion for serving others during their time on campus, and many of them choose to continue on that path after graduation,” said Furman President Elizabeth Davis. “The Peace Corps does important work throughout the world, and we’re grateful for the efforts of Peace Corps volunteers everywhere.”

Bacharach, a member of the football team at Furman, credits his head coach, professors and the campus environment in preparing him for Peace Corps service. “Coach (Bruce) Fowler taught me to take personal accountability and responsibility while existing within a larger group structure with a shared goal — not unlike Peace Corps service. There were also a number of teachers who exemplified a personal growth mindset which was invaluable at Furman and now as a Peace Corps volunteer,” said Bacharach.

“During my time at Furman, I developed a sense of curiosity about other parts of the world and alternative ways of living,” Benson said. “Through my coursework and experiences, I was able to explore a variety of ideas and connect with professors who were experts in their fields. These people provided me with the time and space to delve into deeper thoughts in order to learn more about myself and my passions.”

The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities annually. The complete 2019 rankings of the top 25 schools in each category is available here, while an interactive map showing where alumni from each college and university are serving here.

For more information, visit peacecorps.gov or contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Last updated March 20, 2019
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director