In our 20th anniversary year, the Foundation conducted a survey of graduates of the program. Patricia MacDermot Kasdan (1961-63) led the survey effort. The survey was designed to find out what the scholars are doing today, what employment challenges they have faced, and how their college education impacted their lives. The survey results will help us direct the future of the scholarship program.
The Foundation mailed a survey to 65 living graduates. Thirty-five (54%) of the graduates responded, and the majority reported they were doing well.
At least 71% were currently employed
All but one recent graduate had a history of employment
54% were satisfied with all the jobs they have had
51% worked in education, health, or community development jobs with direct social impact
43% have gone to graduate school
26% earned degrees in education, medicine, engineering, environmental science, and law
17% were doing graduate work in economics, English, education, and the environment
74% did volunteer work in their communities
77% lived in the same communities where they lived as Foundation scholars
69% found their lives good
94% wanted to be involved with the Foundation
Four respondents had worked abroad, 3 in Saudi Arabia (1 of whom had returned to work in the Philippines) and 1 in Hawaii. An overwhelming majority of 86% indicated they planned to work overseas in the future. Of those still in the Philippines, 23% complained of low wages. Annual salaries ranged from 6,000 pesos for a teacher to 960,000 pesos for a ship’s nurse in the Philippines and from 360,000 pesos for a nurse to 534,000 pesos for an architect in Saudi Arabia (currently, $1.00 = 58 pesos). Most teachers in the Philippines earned 120,000 pesos a year, although a teacher in Hawaii was making $37,000 a year.
The news from the 14% who were unemployed was mixed. Two were raising children and not looking for work. The other three (9% of all respondents) had been trained and had worked in civil and mechanical engineering, and electronics. For comparison, the unemployment rate in the Philippines was 14% at the time of the survey, (April 2004, Philippine Central Bank website: www.bsp.gov.ph.statistics).
Respondents’ suggestions for improving Foundation programs focused on:
· Increasing the number of scholarships
· Increasing financial support to scholars
· Increasing communication with PCAFPD staff and other scholars
· Extending support to graduate studies
· Providing graduates with help in finding jobs
· Involving graduates in the work of the Foundation
The Foundation Board reviewed survey returns, especially graduates’ recommendations and suggestions. Based on these, Board members are considering the following actions to enhance the PCAFPD scholarship program:
* Establish regional networks of graduates, scholars, and perhaps current Peace Corps Volunteers, to mentor scholars and provide peer support for graduates, including help with employment
* Add staff (volunteer or possibly paid) to coordinate regional networks of scholars, graduates, and PCVs
* Initiate regional team-building meetings of local scholars and graduates at the beginning of each academic year
* Increase the number of scholars, commensurate with the quality of applications and support staff capabilities
* Increase scholar support for degree-related projects and other requirements
* Fund graduate work depending on the scholar’s academic record, proposed area of study, and other criteria to be developed
Although no conclusions can be drawn about the 46% of PCAFPD graduates who did not return survey questionnaires, those who responded have generally made the most of their Foundation-sponsored college educations. One graduate summarized her experience as follows:
” . . . I really appreciate all the efforts and dedications of the Board Members, staffs and sponsors of PCAFPD. I am so grateful for the opportunities that you had given me and for tracking my whereabouts right now. I feel so loved and important to my PC family. PCAFPD is more than just a scholarship to me but a family. To all of you, thank you so much and may God bless you all. “