SDSU is among top volunteering schools

by Stephanie Saccente

San Diego State is ranked No. 35 as a top volunteer producing school among universities with more than 15,000 undergraduates in the U.S., according to Peace Corps data. There are currently 36 SDSU graduates serving in the Peace Corps worldwide and a total number of 1,114 Aztecs that have served.

Peace Corps is a 27-month program that allows volunteers to live and work in a community overseas. Participants have the opportunity to work in many sector areas including education, youth and community development, health, business information and communication technology, agriculture and environment. SDSU graduates are presently volunteering in 28 countries internationally.

“Combined with the experience and education students are getting here, serving in the Peace Corps provides students with a global experience and job preparation for the 21st century. They get a broader perspective and come back more informed about the way the world works and are able to work more resourcefully; they are more culturally competent,” SDSU Peace Corps recruiter Amber Lung said.

Having served in the Peace Corps herself, Lung believes students that have served had a better advantage than students who haven’t had the experience abroad.

Foods and nutrition junior Marissa Thiry believes students need to become familiar with different cultures and realize what’s going on in other parts of the world. Thiry is interested in possibly becoming involved with the Peace Corps in the future.

“We are incredibly blessed by the opportunities we have been given to succeed and do good in the world. It is up to us to give back and extend a helping hand to those who have not been given the same opportunities,” Thiry said.

In most circumstances, the application to invitation departure process is seven to 12 months. Lung said the process is lengthy and can be frustrating for students at times, but it’s definitely manageable. Students must submit information about their academic and volunteer experience, work, language competency and any practical skills they may have. Then, they must meet with a recruiter who will evaluate their candidacy and decide if they are qualified for service.

Pre-nursing sophomore Kayla Hayes feels it’s important that students have volunteer experience, be it overseas or in the U.S. She has actively participated in many philanthropic events during her time at SDSU.

“I think it’s important for college students to volunteer because we are in a period of life where we can offer other people our time and lighthearted spirits while gaining the exposure and networking with others that could benefit us in the future,” Hayes said.

Lung is proud to recruit at a top leading school in Peace Corps service that provides  opportunities for future generations of volunteers.

“At one point or another, we have all needed help getting back on our feet and someone was there to lift us up,” Thiry said. “Now it is our chance to be that person for someone else.”