UArizona named a top Peace Corps volunteer-producing school
More than 1,700 University of Arizona alumni have served abroad as Peace Corps volunteers.

By Logan Burtch-Buus, University Communications
May 25, 2023

Mario Nuño-Whelan

Former University of Arizona Peace Corps Volunteer Mario Nuño-Whelan in Peru
Former University of Arizona Peace Corps Volunteer Mario Nuño-Whelan plays card games with a group of Peruvian children. Nuño-Whelan volunteered in Peru between 2010 and 2013. University of Arizona Peace Corps Prep Program

The University of Arizona ranks No. 15 among large schools on the Peace Corps' list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities between 2003 and 2023. The list was released Tuesday.

The university has ranked in the top 20 among large schools – those with more than 15,000 undergraduates – a total of seven times. Since the Peace Corps' founding in 1961, more than 1,720 UArizona alumni have served abroad as volunteers.

"We are proud of the University of Arizona's long history of Peace Corp volunteer participation," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "Our students have a desire to serve others, give back, and develop global perspectives and experience. Wildcat Peace Corps volunteers put into action the university's core values of compassion, inclusion and integrity, and the work they do throughout the world and at home exemplifies our mission as a land-grant university."

UArizona offers a Peace Corps Prep Certificate Program to all undergraduates interested in working for the Peace Corps or in international service more broadly. Returned Peace Corps volunteers interested in continuing to work with underserved communities while earning a graduate degree can also receive financial support through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program.

Peace Corps 2023

Peace Corps Top Volunteer-Producing Schools Logo
The University of Arizona was one of eight schools with a prep program to appear on the Peace Corps list. Peace Corps

Chris Elsner, coordinator of the Peace Corps Prep Certificate Program, said the program is intended to help undergraduates develop core talents related to international service, such as intercultural competency, language and leadership skills.

"Peace Corps provides unparalleled professional development and experience for students and leaders," Elsner said. "Throughout those two years in the Peace Corps you are learning how to integrate into other cultures, to adapt and overcome challenges in changing environments, to work with diverse communities, and gain a lot of technical skills based on your work assignment."

Elsner volunteered from 2008 to 2010, teaching English to students in fifth through 11th grades in the village of Yampil in the Sumy region of Ukraine. During the summers, Elsner worked with other volunteers to host youth camps throughout the country. Peace Corps volunteers assist in a wide range of industries, from public health to economic development, based on the needs of their host country and the skills of individual volunteers.

Elsner said his time in Ukraine was a life-changing experience that ultimately led to his enrollment at UArizona, where he earned a master's degree in public administration in 2013 as a Coverdell Fellow.

"Through my fellowship, I got to know Tucson and different nonprofit organizations, the needs of our community, and I fell in love with Tucson," Elsner said. "I am not from here, but this is my home, and a big part of that is because of the graduate school and the Coverdell fellowship."

UArizona was one of eight schools with a prep program to appear on the Peace Corps list. Rankings are calculated based on self-reported data by Peace Corps volunteers between fiscal years 2003 and 2023.


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Media contact(s)

Logan Burtch-Buus

News Writer, University Communications

Chris Elsner

Peace Corps Prep Certificate Program