Peace Corps Celebrates National HBCU Week

Peace Corps recognizes the contributions of graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 10, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter is pleased to announce the Peace Corps\' participation in the celebration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week. From September 9 to September 15, the Peace Corps will recognize the importance of HBCUs nationwide and the contributions HBCU graduates have made as Peace Corps Volunteers.

Peace Corps Director Tschetter said, "Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to provide the Peace Corps with a capable and diverse group of Volunteer candidates. They represent the best of America as they apply their education and skills as Volunteers around the globe."

Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer all students, regardless of race, an opportunity to develop their skills and talents. These institutions train young people who later go on to serve domestically and internationally in both the public and private sectors. Many HBCUs require community service hours as a graduation requirement, and most encourage students to participate in community service activities.

Since 1961, a total of 1,678 HBCU graduates have served as Peace Corps Volunteers. Howard University has produced the highest number, at 160 Volunteers. Currently, there are 49 HBCU graduates serving as Peace Corps Volunteers around the world. Their scope of work varies from education, business, and health to environment, agriculture, and urban development projects. Examples of HBCU graduates who have served or are currently serving in the Peace Corps are:

  • Burgundie Johnson, a 2003 graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) from Mali (2003-2005). She said, "HBCU\'s are a place where African-Americans are able to reach their full potential."She added, "To have the quality of people represented from this pool in an organization such as Peace Corps is a great asset."

  • Bodunrin Bo Banwo, a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University and a currently serving PCV in Paraguay said, "Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer is a tremendous way to share my background with the people of Paraguay. Having an education from a Historically Black University provides me not only with a great basis of skills but also a unique opportunity to show our American diversity overseas."

  • Jason Burns, a graduate of Morgan State University and RPCV from Mali (2002-2004), served as a health education Volunteer. Said Burns "It was an honor as an HBCU graduate and a person of African descent to be able to serve in an African nation. It was an excellent opportunity not only to help the community and learn about the country, but also to actually see the African culture and be engaged in it, as opposed to just reading about it."

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Since 1961, more than 187,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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