The Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) Office of International Programs (OIP) recently received funding to sponsor 25 freshmen students, in obtaining passports to participate in study abroad opportunities. The Institute of International Education American Passport Project is an award for U.S. colleges and universities in the Institute of International Education (IIE) network. The grant aims to help first-year, Federal Pell Grant eligible students get a U.S. passport, according to its website. With the funding for ECSU, each eligible student will be given $165 to apply towards the passport application process.  

ECSU’s OIP Director and Professor of Social Work, Andre P. Stevenson, Ph.D., said that each year more ECSU students express interest in studying abroad. To date, 16 ECSU students were awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Funding to study throughout this year, and the 2023-2024 academic year. Scholarship funding totaled $70,000. During summer 2023 16 students, including some who were not Gilman Scholars, studied abroad in six different countries.

Beginning next month, the OIP will primarily partner with the university’s TRiO Program to identify students who can participate in the American Passport Project. The process will include submitting an application and being interviewed by TRiO and OIP staff, and Study Abroad Student Ambassadors.

ECSU Associate Director of the OIP and Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship Kim Scott, Ph.D., said, “Studying abroad is important to broaden students’ deeper understanding of the world. This kind of exposure and the experiences it brings create priceless life lessons.”

Stevenson echoed those sentiments, adding that traveling matters as students matriculate.

“Increasing the number of students who receive passports is one of many ways to further ensure our students are well-rounded,” he said. “We are grateful to the Institute of International Education for selecting ECSU to be a part of this network and assisting us with developing international-minded thinkers.”