February 11, 2004 - Orange County Register: California's Santa Ana College Signs On to Peace Corps Initiative

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By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-42-145.balt.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 8:49 pm: Edit Post

California's Santa Ana College Signs On to Peace Corps Initiative

California's Santa Ana College Signs On to Peace Corps Initiative

California's Santa Ana College Signs On to Peace Corps Initiative

Feb 11, 2004

The Orange County Register

Tad Vezner

Feb. 11--WASHINGTON -- While their volunteers have explored the world, Peace Corps recruiters have rarely stepped beyond the borders of familiar, four-year universities in search of new faces. But all that changed Tuesday, when the agency announced it will focus more on community colleges -- and at least one Orange County school is ready to sign its scholars up.

Acknowledging that it has long overlooked the "diverse" and "technically skilled" student body at community colleges, the Peace Corps is starting a new recruitment drive at two-year schools across the country, beginning with a pilot program of about 200 institutions. Now only one percent of Peace Corps volunteers come from two-year colleges, though they enroll almost half of the country's higher education students.

Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez, who graduated from Santa Ana College in 1977, said students at community colleges "exemplify the diversity of our culture," and "have the necessary occupational and technical skills to respond to the critical needs of countries where Peace Corps volunteers serve." President George W. Bush wants Vasquez to double the number of volunteers to 14,000.

As the developing nations that the Peace Corps serves increasingly want volunteers with science and technical know-how, the agency is trying to fill that need, especially in health and information technology. Half of all registered nurses trained in the United States now come from community colleges, and most now have certification programs in IT fields.

"Students are extremely excited; I think the demand will be much larger than we will be able to accommodate," said Rita Cepeda, president of Santa Ana College, which is due to join the pilot program later this month. Of the approximately 200 schools involved in the initial program, Santa Ana is the only college in Orange County to enlist with the initiative.

"The initiative is especially timely since community colleges nationwide are expanding their international programs," said George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, which represents 1173 community colleges.

Boggs, a former president of Palomar Community College in San Marcos, added that "community colleges are much more diverse ethnically than grad schools," and can offer Peace Corps recruiters better choices in matching applicants to target countries. Santa Ana College has students from 52 countries.

John Nixon, vice president of academic affairs at Santa Ana College, agreed: "We attract students who have a variety of interests and already have acquired skills; not just the young, enthusiastic, liberal arts person."

Nixon, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, said the opportunity "was the most life-changing experience I've had ... except for having children.

"You learn about what it means to be a stranger in a strange land. You learn empathy. These experiences are more timely all the time," he said.

Cepeda said students at Santa Ana have a history of working with public entities to provide community service, "That's what students come here for. But it's important to provide service not only locally and nationally, but internationally."

Vasquez will be at Santa Ana College on Feb. 23 to talk about the new plan.

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Story Source: Orange County Register

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Community Colleges



By kguerrero (ppp-71-134-54-188.dsl.irvnca.pacbell.net - on Friday, March 16, 2007 - 1:17 pm: Edit Post

Thre are people out there with no collage degree that can make a real differance. Some of these people may have not had the chance or resorces to go to collage. Some of these people have the life experince of hardship and have a profound understanding mentaly, spirtualy and emotionaly with the less fortuante. In this sense I belive that the compassion, selfishness and understanding in a sence what it must be like for those helped is just as important as someone with a degree. And exactly what are you telling people? With out a degree by not giving them the chance/ opportunity to help others with lack of resources? People who want to help make the world a better place sincerly not for finishing collage/ degree/ volunteer requirements or for any kind of money benifit. Thank you for your time

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