Obies Join Corps
Oberlin College has jumped 13 spots on the Peace Corps’ top 25 small schools list, climbing to number 11. The list measures volunteer recruitment among schools with fewer than 5,000 students. Currently, 18 Oberlin graduates are serving in countries across the globe, making this a record year for Oberlin’s involvement in the Peace Corps.
In the opinion of Office of Career Services Associate Director Nathan Elton, Oberlin’s improved ranking showcases a culture of volunteerism and an internationalist worldview at Oberlin. “There’s a very international focus to the education Oberlin students receive, and I think the Peace Corps fits into that,” said Elton, whose office organizes informational meetings for students and facilitates their application and interview process with Peace Corps recruiters. “It gives students a chance to give back to different communities around the world.”
This is the eighth consecutive year that Oberlin has made its way onto the Peace Corps top 25 ranking. According to Elton, Oberlin’s repeated placement on the list shows that Obies are turning thought into action. “The numbers speak for themselves. We have around 2,800 students and do well even though our student body is smaller than the other schools in our category. That shows the commitment of our students and alumni.”
Since the inception of the Peace Corps by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, over 190,000 volunteers have been sent to 139 different countries. Volunteers typically serve for a 27 month commitment after completing an application process lasting nine to 12 months. The volunteers work in one of a range of fields including health, information technology, business development, education and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Hazel Domangue, regional Peace Corps recruiter for Oberlin College, has been working with Oberlin students since 2005. In her view, “Oberlin College promotes the Peace Corps because it promotes volunteerism.” Domangue said that there is usually a high turnout for her presentations at Oberlin. “I usually have two full days of interviews,” she said. “Oberlin students have a lot of enthusiasm to give of themselves.”
According to Domangue, a common misconception students have in applying to the Peace Corps is the difficulty of the application process. She noted that many students think it is almost impossible to gain acceptance. “It is competitive,” stated Domangue, “but generally the competition comes in after you’ve been nominated into the program.” Once students have applied as volunteers, the Peace Corps works to provide assistance in improving their applications. “We want volunteers. Once your application is in we will do whatever we can to help you and make you a more competitive candidate,” said Domangue.
This year’s applicants include Serena Hsin, a junior biochemistry major who has applied to volunteer in the healthcare field. Hsin views the Peace Corps as a way to diversify her life experience beyond the lab. “I’m interested in the Peace Corps because I want to branch out, meet new people and learn what life is really about,” she said. “The Peace Corps gives you the opportunity to help others.”