The University of Texas at Austin ranked No. 8 among large schools on the Peace Corp’s 2018 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list. There are 61 Longhorns currently volunteering worldwide.
The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, 1,838 alumni from UT Austin have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers.
“The University of Texas at Austin’s slogan – ‘What starts here changes the world’ – has been a call to action for me and many alumni to discover ways that we can make a positive impact through our careers.” – recent UT graduate and Peace Corps volunteer Josh Alvarez
“Peace Corps service is a profound expression of the idealism and civic engagement that colleges and universities across the country inspire in their alumni,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley. “As Peace Corps Volunteers, recent college and university graduates foster capacity and self-reliance at the grassroots level, making an impact in communities around the world.”
One UT Austin alumnus currently making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer is Dallas, Texas, native Josh Alvarez. The first-generation college graduate and member of the Class of 2015 credits UT Austin with giving him the tools and skills to serve in the Peace Corps.
“The University of Texas at Austin’s slogan – ‘What starts here changes the world’ – has been a call to action for me and many alumni to discover ways that we can make a positive impact through our careers,” Alvarez said.
As a community economic development volunteer in Costa Rica, Alvarez has been coaching indigenous micro-entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth, to develop local businesses to form sustainable community tourism, and create new economic opportunities focusing on preserving local cultural and environmental resources. He has led several workshops on entrepreneurship and business plan design to inspire a new generation of business owners.
During his time at UT Austin, Alvarez participated in the Mexican American Culture Committee, the Senate of College Councils, the Undergraduate Studies Council, the Transfer Student Board, and the Social Entrepreneurship Association.
“I had the opportunity to study abroad through a program offered by the International Office called Community & Social Development, where I went for a ‘Maymester’ during my senior year to study at the University of Cape Town in South Africa,” Alvarez said. “Throughout my time there, I worked with other students on helping and learning from social entrepreneurs within the townships.”
He says programs at UT are where he found his passion for social entrepreneurship and decided to apply to the Peace Corps.
“UT Austin offers a lot of opportunities for students to learn how they can give back and be altruistic,” said Alvarez. “This holistic approach to education has prepared many alumni to change the world by joining the Peace Corps.”
After completing his service, Alvarez plans to pursue opportunities in the field of social enterprise, earn a master’s in business administration or public policy, and possibly hold public office.
The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities annually according to the size of the student body. Below are the top 10 in the Large Colleges & Universities category and the number of alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers.
Large Colleges & Universities – Total Volunteers:
More than 15,000 Undergraduates
1. University of Wisconsin-Madison – 85
2. University of Washington – 74
3. University of Minnesota – 72
4. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill – 70
5. University of Florida – 68
6. (tie) The Ohio State University – Columbus – 62
6. (tie) University of Virginia – 62
8. (tie) University of Texas – Austin – 61
8. (tie) University of Michigan – Ann Arbor – 61
10. Colorado State University – Ft. Collins – 58
*Rankings are calculated based on fiscal year 2017 data as of September 30, 2017, as self-reported by Peace Corps volunteers.