Public Affairs

California State University, Peace Corps Go Back 50 Years

SJSU alum Tim Shek’s Peace Corps service included assisting in a drought relief project in Honduras.
SJSU alum Tim Shek's Peace Corps service included assisting in a drought
relief project in Honduras.

April 2, 2010
By Elizabeth Chapin

After nearly half a century of volunteerism, the CSU continues to make a significant contribution to the Peace Corps. Overall, California has the most currently-serving Peace Corps volunteers in the United States – 920 – and 281 are California State University alumni.

The Peace Corps, a volunteer program and United States governmental agency, and the CSU system were both established in 1961. Since that time, the CSU has contributed 8,747 Peace Corps volunteers from all 23 campuses.

This year’s Peace Corps Top Colleges report illustrates the organization’s ongoing partnership with the CSU. San Francisco State, San Diego State and San Jose State are included in the top 30 universities for all-time in producing Peace Corps volunteers. Humboldt State ranks 15th in medium-sized universities – with 23 currently-serving alumni volunteers.

Peace Corps service focuses on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation. Volunteers are required to serve 27 months abroad, helping the peoples of countries in need of trained manpower.
After graduating from San Jose State, Tim Shek joined the Peace Corps and served as a water sanitation volunteer in Bolivia and Honduras. Shek expressed the impact Peace Corps made on his life and added that his college experience influenced his choice to volunteer. 

"At SJSU, I was exposed to students from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds which heightened my cultural awareness and curiosity, fueling my desire to explore the world," Shek said. "The Peace Corps presented me with the perfect opportunity."

Another CSU alum, Garrett Emslie, recently completed a Peace Corps assignment in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. He was assigned to a small village where he taught math and English and helped with AIDS education.

"I knew the Peace Corps would give me the opportunity to learn about key problems of the world through a group of people so radically different from me yet so similar," Emslie said.

After 50 years, the Peace Corps and the CSU alumni serving continue to help countless individuals.  

For more information on the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorps.gov/