Howard University, known as an historically black college and university (HBCU), organized a passport drive for its undergraduate and graduate students recently in a bid to get more minority students participating in study abroad programs.

According to figures from the national association of international educators, NAFSA, only 5.6 percent of African-Americans participate in study abroad programs out of the total U.S. student population studying abroad.

The university’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center teamed up with We Go Too, a travel advice website for minority travelers, and study abroad non-profit IES Abroad to set up the ‘one-stop shop’ to help students apply for a passport for the first time or to renew their passports.

Agents from a local passport agency were on hand to process the applications and answer questions, as well as a photographer, who took complimentary passport photos.

The first 15 students who arrived at the passport drive were lucky enough to have their passport application fees waived, thanks to donations from the university’s faculty and staff.

Tonija Hope Navas, deputy director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center, said that the passport drive was a “step in the right direction”.

“We are on a mission to get more students of color to live and learn in another country. If we do not gain the necessary global competence skills available on study abroad programs and required in the 21st century, we will be left behind,” she said.

One of the first registrants for the drive, graduate student Gianna Judkins said, “I’ve always wanted to travel, but while trying to afford staying in school, purchasing my passport remained on the back burner as I couldn’t spare the funds.

Addressing the university and its partners for the event, Judkins added: “You have no idea what your act of kindness means to me or the new doors of opportunity it has opened.”

Image via We Go Too

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