Corps Commitments

Allegheny Alumni Serve the World As Peace Corps Volunteers

By Josh Tysiachney

Since 1961, 162 Allegheny College alumni have served in the Peace Corps, an independent federal agency that places volunteers around the world to work on issues ranging from education and environmental preservation to business development and information technology.

The Peace Corps has historically relied on recent college graduates to fill its ranks—and that continues to be the case today, says Peace Corps recruiter Andrew Burtless. Most of the applications he sees are from people who have graduated from college in the past five years. Not surprisingly, a school like Allegheny—where students performed more than 25,000 hours of community service last year—tends to produce proportionally more Peace Corps volunteers than institutions with less of a focus on service.

“It’s a matter of students developing their own ethic of service and wanting to serve the common good that happens in many contexts here at the College,” says Dave Roncolato ’79, Allegheny’s director of community service and service-learning. And because so many Allegheny alumni, faculty, and staff members have had positive experiences in the Peace Corps, current students see it as an attractive opportunity.

“It’s a huge step to do the Peace Corps,” says Roncolato. “So what gives a student the courage and the tools to do something like that? I don’t think it’s one experience. It’s a matter of them saying, ‘I went out a little bit on a limb and it held me up, so I can go a little farther.’ They eventually learn to fly and say ‘I can do this.’”

By exploring the links below, you can read the personal reflections of Allegheny alumni who have edged out from that limb, changing the lives of others and encountering life-changing experiences of their own through service in the Peace Corps.

This article was featured in the Summer 2007 issue of Allegheny Magazine.