In February 1962, Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps visited Fordham’s Rose Hill campus and told more than 700 students that the function of the volunteer program is “to make a substantial contribution to humanity and to world peace,” The Ram reported. (Download the original article as a PDF.)
“We are in a struggle,” he said. “The traditional, ordinary, pedestrian way of doing things has got to be junked.”
While it’s impossible to know how many Fordham students Sargent inspired that day, or on subsequent visits, his words did make a lasting impression on at least one. Ann Sheehan, UGE ’65, executive director of Pennsylvania’s BCTV and a former Peace Corp volunteer, applied for the program immediately after Shriver’s address.
She posted about Shriver’s visit to Rose Hill on her station’s blog, two days after Shriver died at the age of 95.
“The idea of the Peace Corps had intrigued me since it was first talked about, and although I don’t remember anything specific that he said, Sarge hooked me completely. There were applications available right there, in the gym, and I made my friend wait for me while I filled it out, never dreaming that I would be accepted.”
As director of the Peace Corps, Shriver capitalized on the new and exciting spirit of volunteerism President Kennedy inspired in the nation, especially its younger citizens. Within a few years, thousands of young Americans were working in poor countries around the world.
Shriver’s Rose Hill appearance was part of the University’s American Age Lecture Series, which strives to embody the spirit of the Fordham community through programs that educate, stimulate and enhance the college experience.
Edited 1/24, 09:39: The date in the first sentence was changed from 1964 to 1962, thanks to a tip from “That Guy” (see comments below). BH