Mercer Ranked No. 3 in Placement of Peace Corps Volunteers

Statue of Jesse Mercer on the Mercer campus.

MACON — Mercer University is ranked in the top three in the Southeast for placement of Peace Corps volunteers among colleges and universities with fewer than 5,000 undergraduate students. In the most recent fiscal year, 11 Mercer graduates were serving in the Peace Corps around the world, putting Mercer in a third-place tie with Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

“We are very proud of these students for their exceptional commitment to serve,” said Dr. Peter Brown, director of Mercer’s Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships. “It reflects Mercer’s signature focus on engaging students and graduates in service-learning. Mercer On Mission and ServiceFirst enable hundreds of Mercer students every year to gain hands-on experience as servant leaders abroad. The Mercer Honors Program and the Mercer Service Scholars Program both require international service from Mercer’s most elite undergraduates. The desire to represent our country abroad as leaders for change grows naturally out of these learning experiences.”

Bryant Harden, CLA ’10, is serving in Mongolia as an English teacher and said his interest in international work was sparked after his experience with a Mercer On Mission trip to South Africa in 2010.

“That trip helped me to realize how fortunate I have been throughout my life and I wanted to share that fortune with people around the world. I applied to be a Peace Corps volunteer a few weeks after coming back from South Africa,” Harden said. “Mercer On Mission changed my path and beliefs completely. Before going to South Africa, I was planning to take the law school route. Instead, I found myself joining the Peace Corps and wanting to use my fortunes to help others. Peace Corps has further strengthened this new path, but has given me more experience to help determine how I can best make a difference.”

A native of Thomasville, he will complete his assignment in 2013 and hopes to earn his master’s in international affairs after he returns to the United States. Much as his experience with Mercer On Mission altered his career path, Harden recommends the Peace Corps experience as well.

“It’s a life-changing and life-strengthening experience that opens the eyes to different cultures and people,” Harden said. “I’ve gained many friends and a new family in the Peace Corps. My Mongolian host family has already become my second family.”

Top Schools in the Southeast in the small category:

1  Eckerd College  16
2  Flagler College  12
3  Mercer University  11
3  Rhodes College  11
4  Furman University 9

The volunteer count above is for fiscal year 2011, and includes volunteers, trainees, and Peace Corps response volunteers serving as of Sept. 30, 2011. Only self-reported data from volunteers was used to determine the rankings, according to the Peace Corps.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus — and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program.
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