Nine Calvin grads are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers.

Calvin College made its first appearance on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. With nine graduates currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers, the college ranks 20th this year among small schools nationwide.

Since the agency was created in 1961, 197 Calvin graduates have made a difference as Peace Corps volunteers. The list has been announced yearly since 2001.

“The Peace Corps provides an indispensable opportunity for young people out of college to put their unique skills to work making a difference for communities around the world,” said Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “Volunteers make lasting change by living and working at the grassroots level in their communities of service and using their talents to tackle some of the most critical challenges in international development.”

Calvin alum James Dykstra of Kalamazoo, Mich., began serving as an environmental education volunteer in 2013 in Mexico. He makes a difference leading ecology clubs that teach students how to promote environmental stewardship in their schools and communities with murals, cleanup campaigns and nature hikes.

Dykstra earned an engineering degree (civil and environmental concentrations) and a minor in Spanish from Calvin in 2011.

“At Calvin I was presented with a wealth of world-expanding opportunities,” Dykstra said. “Calvin’s abundance of international study and travel options also provided the opportunity to travel through Europe with a group of engineering and business students, to live and study for an interim in Yucatan, Mexico, as well as to be awarded a grant to travel to Ecuador for more in-depth design and site assessment of our senior engineering design project.”

Three other Michigan schools earned recognition from the Peace Corps this year. For large universities, the University of Michigan ranked No. 8 with 51 volunteers and Michigan State University ranked No. 23 with 32 volunteers. On the midsized schools list, Northern Michigan University took 19th place with 14 alumni serving worldwide. 

Service in the Peace Corps is a hands-on leadership experience that offers volunteers the opportunity to travel to the farthest corners of the world to work on sustainable development projects in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth development.

The Peace Corps goal is for volunteers to return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community development skills that position them well for advanced education and professional opportunities in a 21st-century job market.

Approximately 233 Michigan residents are currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 7,107 Michigan residents have served as volunteers since the agency was created in 1961.

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