While Virginia Tech may be a school focused on creating careers for students after graduation, some may be willing to take the mantra of “Ut Prosim” to the next level.
The Peace Corps will be hosting an information session tonight at 7 p.m. in the Graduate Life Center. Tech Recruiter Chris Hickey will be leading the meeting with insights into the Peace Corps mission, as well as his own experiences abroad with the Corps.
Hickey plans to discuss in detail many of the aspects of joining the Corps, and the months of service applicants must be willing to commit to, as well as the benefits from such an endeavor. He also plans to talk about the expectations and necessary work ethics of Corps members during their service.
Now a student pursuing his Masters in Biological Systems Engineering, Hickey served the Peace Corps between 2008 and 2010 in Honduras.
Upon returning to Tech, where he received his B.S., Hickey began recruiting for the Peace Corps in August of 2011. While running information sessions at Tech, Hickey also performs recruitment at career fairs at other schools around southwest Virginia.
The recruitment efforts at Tech have been largely successful in recent years, according to Kelly McCormack, public affairs specialist of the Mid-Atlantic regional Peace Corps office.
“Virginia Tech has always been a high producer of Peace Corps volunteers,” McCormack said. “Last year there were 42 Hokies serving in the field.”
Last year Tech tied with James Madison University for having the second most alumni actively serving as volunteers among Virginia schools. The University of Virginia currently tops the list, though this year’s rankings will be released next week.
According to Hickey, the appeal of serving in the Peace Corps to Tech students is related to the nature of Tech’s curriculums.
“We have a great pool of applicants because they’re usually technically trained, because we are a technical university,” Hickey said. “Many of them do have a language background, and although it’s not required of the Peace Corps, it is beneficial to have some minimal knowledge of another language.”
Hickey says that while all majors are welcome to apply, it can be helpful to have students apply from majors that teach technical skills. Among these, students studying engineering, agriculture, environment, dairy sciences, forestry or wildlife and fisheries sciences can provide many benefits in their fieldwork.
“It’s specialized skills that (the) Peace Corps tends to look for when you go out into the developing world to design portable water skills, which is something that I did,” said Hickey. “You have to have some knowledge on that in order to do so... [like] engineers have that background, even if they’ve never designed water systems in their life prior to Peace Corps.”
A nine to 12-month application waiting period precedes the 27-month commitment to service the Peace Corps expects of its volunteers with more than 70 country options.