Peace Corps Director Asks College Graduates to Volunteer

December 17, 2004

Director Delivers Commencement at Chaminade and University of Wisconsin

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 17, 2004 – As fall college graduates commence into the world and look toward entering the workforce, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez is asking them to consider making volunteerism part of their future.

This past Monday, December 13, Director Vasquez addressed graduates at Chaminade University of Honolulu and invited them to consider joining the 21 volunteers who currently serve from Hawaii.

"I urge you to never underestimate your capacity to make a difference," said Director Vasquez at the Chaminade University ceremony. "Use your mind and your heart to help others, and you will live a full and satisfying life."

Over 300 graduates and their families attended the Chaminade University ceremony. As part of his visit to Hawaii, Director Vasquez also met with the local Returned Peace Corps Volunteers group and was the guest of honor at their annual holiday party. Later, he met with Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, thanking Hawaiian citizens for their continued consideration of the Peace Corps. Historically, 1,267 Hawaiian residents have served as volunteers since 1961. This was Director Vasquez's first trip to the Aloha state.

On Sunday, Dec. 19, Director Vasquez will address the 1,600 University of Wisconsin at Madison graduates and their families at the Kohl Center. For the past 10 years, the university has been the top producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Last year, 142 volunteers were University of Wisconsin at Madison graduates. Since Peace Corps' inception in 1961, more than 2,600 graduates have answered the call to service – second only to the number of graduates from the University of California at Berkeley.

"The commitment to volunteerism that Wisconsin students and alumni demonstrate are a source of pride for the United States, as they help show the world America's virtues," said Director Vasquez.

Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. 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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