Grant can help 25 Newman students receive passports

Sep 21, 2023
Proud to be an IIE American Passport Project Institution

Thanks to the American Passport Project grant through the Institute of International Education (IIE), up to 25 Newman students can receive funds to obtain a U.S. passport and support their study abroad journeys.

“A passport is the first thing that opens up their world to the possibility of study abroad,” said Courtney Temple, IIE executive vice president and chief administrative officer. 

The program prioritizes first-year Pell-eligible students with limited financial means as they obtain their first passport. The project works toward improved access, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), making global learning abroad for students a greater possibility with an earlier start. 

Sonja Bontrager, assistant professor of Spanish and co-director of Hispanic initiatives
Sonja Bontrager, assistant professor of Spanish and co-director of Hispanic initiatives

“This removes a barrier for some who may not even consider studying abroad,” said Sonja Bontrager, assistant professor of Spanish and co-director of Hispanic initiatives. “Having a passport is a powerful motivation. It is a step toward imagining new possibilities and experiences, and studying abroad provides perspective and a worldview that we carry for life in our careers and social relationships.”

Bontrager explained that this opportunity powerfully aligns with Newman’s Navigator program, DEI efforts and study abroad program goals. 

“Including more people who have been underrepresented in international education allows us to be more just and inclusive, which benefits us all as a campus community,” she said. “It’s an important step toward fairness for all students that fits into our identity as a university.”

Students can take advantage of the passport opportunity now with applications to be completed by early spring 2024 to ensure proper reimbursement.

Steps for students

  1. Contact Bontrager, Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program Kelly McFall or Professor of History and Director of International Studies Cheryl Golden
  2. Verify Pell Grant eligibility through Director of Financial Aid Myra Pfannenstiel in the Office of Financial Aid.
  3. Complete the passport application process with the help of Bontrager, McFall or Golden.
  4. Begin the reimbursement process with the help of Rachel Lang, administrative assistant for arts and humanities or Student Accounts staff.

Newman President Kathleen Jagger describes the American Passport Project as “another example of our faculty being committed to serving students in myriad ways beyond the essential functions of a faculty position.”

Bontrager added, “We are honored and delighted to offer this opportunity to eligible students and are grateful to the IIE American Passport Project and to President Jagger for making it possible. We hope to see 25 more students with passports in their hands by the spring of 2024,”

International travel opportunities at Newman

Newman University currently offers four international travel opportunities for students: Guatemala Study & Serve, Europe by Rail, Newman exchange in Birmingham, UK, and a graduate theology world study program.