Top of the Morning, Feb. 20, 2014

Illinois might not be any good in basketball this year. But when it comes to the Peace Corps, the Illini haven't lost their touch. Illinois, with 41 grads helping out, checks in at No. 19 on the Peace Corps' annual list of volunteer-producing colleges and universities in the U.S. That's up four spots from last year's rankings — and a lot better for the university to spotlight than, say, Unofficial.

We bring this up because A) Peace Corps Week is Feb. 23-March 1; B) an information session for interested volunteers is at 6 p.m. today at the UI's Career Center, 715 S. Wright St., C; and C) 26-year-old Alissa Harvey, the UI's Peace Corps recruiter who is fresh off a three-year stint in the Republic of Georgia, is a cooperative type who wants to get the word out about a good thing. So we let her:

In 10 words or less, what's your pitch to convince us to join the Peace Corps

Peace Corps is an experience unlike any other.

What's it going to take for Illinois to get to No. 1 in the rankings?

A stronger dedication to volunteerism and international service, and the desire to commit to two years of service abroad.

When you recruit, what's the craziest question you've heard?

I would say that questions usually are not too crazy, just misguided. Sometimes there are misconceptions of what it means to be a Peace Corps volunteer and what the agency does.

Best thing about the Peace Corps is ...

The ability to really immerse yourself in another culture and community. You are challenging yourself and you will see how you react to different situations, how you adapt and how your expectations and perspective of what is around you changes.

The Top 25

College, followed by number of volunteers:

Wisconsin 90

Washington 85

Florida 85

Ohio State 83

Michigan 81

UCLA 67

Cal 66

Colorado 63

Oregon 63

Minnesota 57

Colorado State 56

San Diego 54

Cal Santa Barbara 48

Michigan State 47

Texas 47

Arizona State 45

Georgia 44

Penn State 42

Cal Davis 41

Cal Santa Cruz 41

Illinois 41

Virginia Tech 39

Maryland 38

Florida State 37

North Carolina 35

Boston University 35

Indiana 35

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