Carleton named second-highest producer of Peace Corps volunteers among small colleges

Carleton has produced one of the highest all-time numbers of Peace Corps volunteers since the agency was established in 1961.

Erica Helgerud ’20 2 May 2024 Posted In:
Aerial photo of Willis Hall with the Chapel visible behind it.

The Peace Corps announced its rankings of colleges and universities that have produced the highest all-time number of Peace Corps volunteers since the agency was established in 1961, and Carleton is proud to be recognized as the second-highest producer of volunteers among small colleges, which includes institutions with fewer than 5,000 undergraduates.

With 504 total volunteers, Carleton is just five students behind the top producer, Oberlin College and Conservatory, and 21 volunteers above the third-highest producer, neighboring St. Olaf College.

Peace Corps-branded graphic reading, "Top ten Peace Corps' historically volunteer producing small schools." Listed in order are: Oberlin, Carleton, St. Olaf, Oregon Health & Science, Middlebury, Grinnell, Colorado College, Macalester, Smith, and Lewis & Clark.

“We are so proud of all the Carls who have joined the Peace Corps over the years,” President Alison Byerly said. “The agency’s recognition of Carleton as one of the country’s all-time top producers of volunteers is a great honor. The fact that so many of our alumni continue to dedicate their time after graduation to promoting deeper connection with and cultural understanding of people all over the world is a testament to the unique impact of a Carleton liberal arts education.”

Kyle Fraser-Mines ’21 currently serves as an education volunteer in Cambodia and believes that her time at Carleton prepared her well for the role.

“Carleton attracts many people to the Peace Corps because the College fosters an environment of community service and awareness about the world around us,” Fraser-Mines said. “Carleton has many initiatives that give students the chance to participate in community programs related to many of the sectors involved in the Peace Corps. We had students going to the local elementary school in psychology classes to learn about the best methods to teach youth, students participating in climate action initiatives to make the school carbon neutral, students working on the campus farm and sharing information about effective practices, and many more unique opportunities.”

Through all these experiences, Fraser-Mines says, Carleton gives students relevant experiences that will “help them succeed as volunteers in whichever post they choose” and allows them to “foster their interests in development in a sustainable and encouraging fashion.”

A group of people, half older and half younger adults, mingle in front of a projector screen reading, "Carls in the Peace Corps 50 Years Apart: Hosted by 1963 and 2013."
Carls from the Classes of 1963 and 2013 host a Peace Corps panel during Reunion 2023. Photo by Aldo Polanco ’23.

Over the last six decades, more than 240,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in 144 countries around the world. Through service, the Peace Corps equips its alumni with adaptive leadership, intercultural competence, and problem-solving skills that are highly valued by employers across federal, state, and local governments; nonprofits; and the private sector.

“Today’s world requires problem solvers and people who understand that it is only through shared impact that we will change the trajectory of global issues. Curiosity and openness to others is cultivated in school, but must be nurtured throughout our lifetimes,” said Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. “I am so grateful to these outstanding institutions for challenging and inspiring their students to not only be exceptional students but also to go on to be informed and intentional global citizens.”

Peace Corps volunteers serve in six programmatic sectors: education, health, environment, agriculture, youth development, and community economic development. These service opportunities allow them to apply their unique skills—and learn new ones—while supporting community-led development around the world. Additionally, the Peace Corps offers unique career advantages, providing volunteers with global perspectives and skills highly valued in an interconnected society.

“At the Peace Corps, we see international service as an opportunity to work with the leaders of today and tomorrow,” Peace Corps Deputy Director David E. White Jr. said. “As they develop skills and pursue opportunities that will stem the tide of irregular migration, Peace Corps volunteer service provides emerging changemakers with an opportunity to invest in local communities and work with partners from across the world to forge a brighter future for all.”

The Peace Corps invites U.S. Americans from all backgrounds who embody the spirit of service and a commitment to cross-cultural understanding to apply for Peace Corps service. The next application deadline is May 1, 2024. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply online and take the first step toward a transformative experience contributing to world peace and friendship. Visit peacecorps.gov/bold to learn more about Peace Corps volunteer service and how to connect with communities in over 60 countries to help build a better world.

About the Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners, and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development, and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 volunteers have served in 144 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov.


Erica Helgerud ’20 is the news and social media manager for Carleton College.