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The North Wind

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Hi! My name is Hannah Jenkins, and I am one of the copy editors here at the North Wind. I am a sophomore at NMU, and I love all things writing and editing-related. I am proud to be a part of this great...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

NMU alumni make global impact

Peace Corps rank NMU as a top volunteer-producing university

NMU students regularly give up running water, Internet and electricity to go camping for a weekend, but it is an NMU alumni trend to serve in the Peace Corps and give up these conveniences for two years overseas.

NMU is ranked 19th nationwide on the list of the top 25 volunteer-producing mid-sized colleges and universities across the country, with 14 alumni currently serving overseas.


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Brett Heimann, a mid-Michigan representative for the Peace Corps, said the high amount of alumni serving in the Peace Corps speaks volumes for NMU academics.

“This shows NMU has a global focus preparing students to serve in the real world,” Heimann said. “The school prepares students in educational work and environmental work. Many people don’t think of the U.P. as cutting edge, but the classrooms at NMU teach cutting edge technology. It’s cool to see so many students start out serving.”

The Peace Corps has been helping over 75 countries with more than 8,000 volunteers since 1961. Since John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps, nearly 220,000 Americans have served.

Approximately 200 NMU alumni have served in the Peace Corps since it began in 1961, according to the Peace Corps press release. Michigan currently has 233 citizens serving and 7,107 since it began.

NMU alumna Kaitlin McDonald served in the Peace Corps from 2012 to 2014 as an agroforestry volunteer in Senegal. McDonald said NMU sparked her interest to go overseas.

“The NMU international studies program fueled my innate curiosity to see how the different peoples of the world live,” McDonald said. “Aided by the tools learned through the program, I was able to go and serve in the Peace Corps.”

To start the process, the alumni choose which country they wish to serve in and are then assigned to live with other volunteers or with a host family. Choosing where volunteers wish to work is a new part of the application added in July 2014. Since such reforms have been implemented, 34 percent of applicants say they are open to serving wherever needed. The second option added to the application allows a choice in subject field,  and 49 percent say they are willing to help in any sector, according to the Peace Corps website.

The fields offered include agriculture, youth development, environment, community economic development, health or education.

It is suggested applicants apply nine months to a year before they wish to serve.

The current deadline for fall service is April 1.

Peace Corps service opportunities include helping with food supply, gender equality, fighting disease, improving living conditions in villages and helping them become more independent.

Director of the Center for Student Enrichment Rachel Harris said NMU students have fearless attitudes and fearless determination and are community-centered, which makes them a great fit for the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps doesn’t let just anyone travel overseas. NMU alumni have been accepted from showing past experience and a degree related to the field they wish to work in just as you would for a paying job.

Career Advising Counselor Michele Stephenson said serving in the Peace Corps is a great finishing touch on a resume.

“Obviously working with the Peace Corps means your personality is an altruistic type,” Stephenson said. “You’re willing to work as a team member and on projects. It’s not easy to go somewhere else, and it says a lot that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone outside of just a narrow scope of something.”

In 2014, the Peace Corps reached record-breaking application numbers with 17,336 applicants, a 70 percent increase from 2013. This was a 22-year high for the agency.

When volunteers return to the states, they are eligible for graduate school programs and federal hiring benefits.

Heimann is hosting an informational session about the Peace Corps at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 25 in Hedgcock 2303.

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