Knox College Among National Leaders for Peace Corps Volunteers

February 11, 2014

Mike Dooley

Knox College has earned a spot on Peace Corps' annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges in the United States. With 13 alumni currently serving all over the world as Peace Corps volunteers, Knox ranks No. 10 among small colleges and universities -- those with enrollments of fewer than 5,000 students.

Since the Peace Corps was created in 1961, 192 Knox graduates have made a difference as Peace Corps volunteers. (Photo at top: 2009 Knox College graduate Mike Dooley teaches songs to children while serving in the Peace Corps in Paraguay.)

Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said Knox College's "fine liberal arts education really helps prepare applicants for their Peace Corps service. Knox is a school that has a global orientation and is committed to creating global leaders and a rich history of inquiry and curiosity about the world."

"The same passion that launched the Peace Corps more than 50 years ago fuels progress in developing countries today, thanks to the leadership and creativity that college graduates bring to their Peace Corps service," Hessler-Radelet added. "The unique Peace Corps experience helps recent graduates cultivate highly sought-after skills that will launch their careers in today's global economy."

Knox President Teresa Amott said, "I am proud to see the Peace Corps recognize the remarkable dedication to international exchange exhibited by our alumni serving abroad. These Knox volunteers return home forever changed by their  experience, ready to serve their communities as lifelong peace-builders."

For current students who are interested in the Peace Corps or other international service, Knox College offers its Peace Corps Preparatory Program, the first program of its kind in the nation. The program, which celebrated its fifth anniversary last year, consists of a specialized curriculum with courses in international studies, education, and foreign language study. It also includes a community service project and a chance to study abroad, opening students' eyes to new opportunities to make a difference in Galesburg and around the world.

"Starting the Peace Corps Preparatory Program was one of Knox's best initiatives, and I look forward to strengthening and expanding the program," said Robin Ragan, director of the Knox Peace Corps Prep Program.

"I am so proud to be teaching and serving in a community of learners that values service and putting education in action in order to wrestle with some of the world's most pressing issues," added Ragan, who also is associate professor of modern languages (Spanish) and director of the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies.

Catherine "Kiki" CohenKnox College 2013 graduate Catherine "Kiki" Cohen of Afton, Minnesota, (in photo at right) is currently serving as an English education Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia, where she works with third- to ninth-grade students and teachers and teaches a children's kickboxing class. She says that her time at Knox, especially a study-abroad experience in Barcelona, Spain, and an independent study class, put her on the path to Peace Corps.

"Knox definitely had its challenges, tested me as a student, and made me a better person," said Cohen, who majored in Spanish and education. "The study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain was what really showed me that there was an entire world out there just waiting to be seen. That was the experience that made me itch to see the world, meet new people, have new experiences, and potentially see how I can help. It really was a college that changed my life."

This is the most recent national recognition Knox has received for its commitment to service and the betterment of our world. Last year Knox was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction in recognition of the College's commitment to service, service learning, and civic engagement. Knox was also ranked 12th in the Best Liberal Arts Colleges classification of the 2013 Washington Monthly College Rankings, which evaluated schools based on their contributions to the public good.