University of Mary Alum Among First Peace Corps Volunteers to Return to Service Overseas

Blaine Cronrath

BISMARCK, N.D. – Bismarck resident Blaine Cronrath is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020, according to the international volunteer service organization. The Peace Corps suspended global operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve wanted to join the Peace Corps since I graduated from college. My initial attraction to the Peace Corps was the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture other than my own. As I have grown, I have found myself more attracted to the opportunity to serve in a country that needs my skill set,” said Cronrath, who graduated cum laude in 2011 with a degree in history education from University of Mary. “My time at the University of Mary and my work in corrections have helped me find my desire to serve."

Since his education at Mary, Cronrath has been active in the education field by helping facilitate the Read Right program at Simle Middle School, providing Read Right tutoring for inmates at the James River Correctional Center in Jamestown, ND, and serving as Read Right trainer, principal, and instructional coach for the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations.

Cronrath begins his two-plus years of volunteer service this week in the Eastern Caribbean. His primary responsibility is in schools helping the education sector, and work in cooperation with local partner organizations on sustainable development projects, and community building.

“The world is at a critical juncture. The largest global vaccination effort in history is underway while other widespread health, social, political, and environmental issues continue to erode the foundation of our global society. Actions taken in the next few years have the potential to fundamentally impact development trajectories for decades to come,” said Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. “Peace Corps volunteers returning to the Eastern Caribbean will work alongside community members to support urgent development efforts and build critical connections.”  

The volunteer cohorts are made up of both first-time volunteers and volunteers who were evacuated in early 2020. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps’ six sectors – agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, or youth in development – and all will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work.

On March 15, the Peace Corps welcomed the first volunteers to service in Zambia. The agency is recruiting volunteers to serve at 24 of the agency’s 60 posts, though all posts have enthusiastically requested the return of volunteers. The Peace Corps will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in all its host countries and send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit and follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

About the University of Mary: True to its motto “lumen vitae” — The Light of Life — the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs and graduate programs animated by moral courage and leadership in chosen professions and service to the community. A private, co-educational Catholic institution, the University of Mary welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly 60 bachelor’s, 15 master’s, and five doctoral programs — in business administration, education, nursing practice, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. The 19-sport Athletic Department adheres to its Greatness Through Virtue mission under the governance of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) conferences. With more than 3,800 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, and Rome, Italy, as well as vibrant online offerings.

Explore Topics