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WCU opens new passport facility, awards 25 free passports for students to study abroad



By Julia Duvall

Western Carolina University has been selected by the Institute of International Education to receive an IIE American Passport Project grant that will enable 25 WCU students to obtain a U.S. passport to support their study abroad journeys.

In its third year, the program has awarded 48 institutions in the IIE network the grant, which will help up to 1,200 Pell-eligible, U.S. students obtain their U.S. passports to study abroad. Through the IIE American Passport Project, IIE aims to empower 10,000 U.S. students with their passports by the end of this decade.

WCU will begin awarding the passports this spring.

Sophomore Emma Carson, of Fairmont, who is studying social work, said she is excited to find opportunities to volunteer abroad to expand her understanding of different cultures, traditions and norms.

“I am ecstatic to finally get a passport because now I am able to study abroad in different parts of the world and find out how they take care of their citizens,” Carson said. “I am extremely grateful to the Office of Global Engagement for expanding my educational journey beyond WCU.”

The program prioritizes first-year students, with limited financial means, for whom this may be their first passport to make global learning abroad a greater possibility with an earlier start.

The awarded institutions will couple the grant funding with their engagement and outreach, advising, programming and additional support for the students they have identified for this program.

In addition to the grant for the 25 student passports, WCU’s Office of Global Engagement now offers passport services.

WCU students, faculty and staff can also have passport photos made with the Iris Photo Booth provided in the Center for Career and Professional Development in Reid 150.

Students can obtain two free passport photos in the Office of Global Engagement.

“While convenient for WCU students, faculty and staff, the passport service is open to all community members of Western North Carolina and beyond,” said Wes Milner, director of the Office of Global Engagement. “We are thrilled to be able to award these 25 passports to students who would not be able to have this opportunity otherwise, as well as provide these services to our larger community.”

Passport applications are only accepted with appointments. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. in Cordelia Camp Building room 109. For more information, contact or call 828-227-7494.

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