Geneseo has been ranked 18th out of medium-sized schools across the United States for producing Peace Corps volunteers after graduation in 2015. This is the second consecutive year that the university has placed in the top 25, with 15 alumni currently working with the organization. Tied for 18th place with Fordham University, Geneseo stands alongside institutions such as George Washington University and The College of William and Mary and also ranks above universities such as Boston College and Johns Hopkins University.
Associate Director for Internship Opportunities Rob DiCarlo has served as a liaison between the Peace Corps and the Geneseo student body since his arrival at Geneseo from SUNY Brockport approximately three years ago. DiCarlo spent time as an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer—the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps—in Rochester. He works closely with Peace Corps regional recruiter Anne Tatarsky to provide a connection between the organization and interested students, coordinating exchanges through Geneseo’s biannual volunteer fair.
“The cool thing about having a regional recruiter is that they are based in Rochester, so they can come out a lot more frequently,” DiCarlo said. “They are generally on campus two to three times a semester.”
Coordinator of Student Leadership, Volunteerism and Service Samantha Hebel—an AmeriCorps alumna—hopes to coordinate with the Department of Career Development to ensure that the faculty is providing students with available information about opportunities such as the Peace Corps.
“Students that are attracted to this campus are the ones who would be motivated to pursue these types of experiences ... Geneseo is a unique community,” she said. “Students focus on the bigger picture and larger concepts. That’s what the Peace Corps looks at … People who go into the Peace Corps are focused on a holistic view of social change. Geneseo fosters that ideology and development in students.”
Hebel also referenced the Study Abroad Department as a major factor in Geneseo’s commitment to service, since many programs have a service component.
“It helps students think beyond this little town we are in; beyond New York and beyond the U.S.,” she said.
DiCarlo credited the recent influx in volunteers to a combination of an updated application process and the personality of an average Geneseo student. “I believe students recognize that there is a lot of value in having some type of experience between undergraduate and graduate school,” he said “I think these programs fit that really nicely.”
The updated application process provides students with the opportunity to apply their senior year of college in preparation for a gap year. The original process, which required applicants to apply a year in advance, had a long response period and was therefore not feasible for many students.
“Two years ago, if you came to me as a senior interested in the Peace Corps, I’d say you can apply, but it’s not going work for an immediate gap year,” DiCarlo said. “You would have to find something else to do for a year and a half.”
These changes have spiraled into a record-breaking number of applicants for 2015.
Anthropology major senior Kaitlyn Morgan will serve in the Peace Corps after graduation as a maternal and child health volunteer in Rwanda. Morgan, who said she considered leaving Geneseo her sophomore year in order to pursue volunteerism in the Peace Corps, credited assistant professor of anthropology Melanie A. Medeiros as a large influence in her decision. Medeiros was a Peace Corps volunteer herself and will be leading a new study abroad program to Brazil this summer.
Morgan will depart between May 31 and June 7 to embark on a three-month training program before officially starting work in Rwanda. She acknowledged Geneseo and her professors for their support in the process.
“I think it’s important that I went to liberal arts college that promotes a worldly view on things. I might have done something more local had I not gone here,” she said. “The whole thing has been scary in an exciting way … Geneseo was the perfect environment to prepare me.”