Duke is Among Leaders in Attracting Former Peace Corps Volunteers

Ryan Gorczycki, a Sanford graduate student who now heads the North Carolina Peace Corps Association, served as a volunteer in Madagascar. Photo by Megan Morr/Duke University Photgraphy.

Duke ranks eighth among colleges and universities that provide special fellowships and support for graduate students who served in the Peace Corps, the agency reported Wednesday.

Nineteen Duke graduate students receive tuition assistance and other benefits through the Coverdell Peace Corps Fellows programs for returned volunteers. All are enrolled in master's degree programs at the Sanford School of Public Policy or the Fuqua School of Business, through which they also serve as volunteers with local community groups.

"My Peace Corps experience has been very valuable here at Duke," said Ryan Gorczycki, a former volunteer in Madagascar who is pursuing a master's degree in public policy at Sanford and also leads the North Carolina Peace Corps Association. "Serving directly with communities in the developing world helps us understand more deeply the issues we discuss in the classroom, and it motivates us to continue serving others after we leave Duke."

Since 2004, 57 Duke students have completed the Coverdell Fellows program, Peace Corps said. In addition, it said 682 Duke alumni have served in the Peace Corps since the agency began in 1961, with 15 alumni currently serving overseas.

These volunteers "return to the United States as global citizens, with leadership, cross-cultural understanding, and language and technical skills that position them for success in today's global job market," said Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet.

Earlier this year, Duke's Peace Corps Fellows organized a "world's fair" that highlighted their experiences and encouraged undergraduates to follow in their footsteps. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Duke held a year-long commemoration, "A World Together," that celebrated its long ties with Peace Corps and its growing activities in the developing world.