San Diego State University, UC San Diego and the University of San Diego all ranked among the schools sending the most alumni to work in the Peace Corps last year, according to the U.S. international service agency.

UCSD is tied for 14th among large schools, with 36 volunteers in 2015. More than 800 UCSD alumni have volunteered for the Peace Corps over a 55-year period.

San Diego State was tied for 24th, with 32 graduates working with the Peace Corps, which sends American volunteer to help address the needs of people around the world.

USD was tied for 14th among medium-sized universities with 16 volunteers.

“The Peace Corps is a unique opportunity for college graduates to put their education into practice and become agents of change in communities around the world,” agency Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Today’s graduates understand the importance of intercultural understanding and are raising their hands in record numbers to take on the challenge of international service.”

The University of Washington sent the most volunteers to the Peace Corps, 72, followed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with 68.

The rankings follow a 40-year high in applications for the Peace Corps in 2015, when application and recruitment reforms went into effect.

“I came into Peace Corps thinking I can change the world for the better,” said Kevin Nguyen, a UCSD alumnus teaching science in Mozambique.

“It is such a large goal that a lot of us volunteers have,” Nguyen said. “However, we quickly realized that it’s the little things we do that makes our service (impactful). Whether it’s teaching a child how to read, helping pay for school for a student or lending a hand in the farms, it is the small things that keep us going.”

Jaclyn Stecker, an SDSU alumna who teaches English in Costa Rica, said she “explored many different avenues of volunteerism” but it wasn’t until traveling to India that she realized she wanted to continue in foreign service.

“The Peace Corps offered a more stable and structured, long-term opportunity for the types of changes I longed to make in this world,” Stecker said.

Nearly 1,200 Aztec alumni have volunteered for the Peace Corps over the years, making it 28th in the U.S. for all-time highest volunteer-producing schools.

—City News Service