Passport drive opens up the world to undergrads

Penn Abroad provided fully funded passports to undergraduates who have never held a passport before, with priority given to students who receive financial aid.

People sitting at tables covered in blue table cloths, with the two people in the foreground facing each other, each holding up their right hands as one person asks the other to take an oath for a U.S. passport.
Penn Abroad offered students the chance to get a free passport at a recent passport drive.

Through a passport drive, Penn Abroad made it easier for dozens of students to explore the world by offering fully funded passports.

The program was open to undergraduates who have never held a passport before, and priority was given to students who receive financial aid. U.S. passport agents were on-hand to process the applications.

About 45 students, ranging from first- to fourth-years, applied for the event during pre-registration, and Penn Abroad was able to accept all applicants, said Camille Cropley, Penn Abroad’s marketing and outreach manager.

“We really want to give all students the opportunity to take advantage of our Penn Abroad programs, and this is one way to do that,” Cropley said.

Several students at the event said they had looked into getting passports before but had never applied because the process seemed confusing, time consuming, and cost-prohibitive.

A girl with two braids waves to two people seated at a table with blue and yellow balloons.
First-year English major Saragail Irons (center) says she’s looking forward to visiting her roommate in Turkey now that she will have a passport.

"At Penn Abroad, our goal is to provide students with a meaningful global experience during their academic career. To achieve that, we not only provide a wide variety of study, internship, and research programs to fit students’ needs, but our passport drive also helps ensure that all Penn students have access to these opportunities,” said Kristyn Palmiotto, Penn Abroad’s executive director. “By removing financial barriers and providing support throughout the process, we were thrilled to bring the possibility of global experiences one step closer for all of the students who participated in our event."

For Marbella Aguilar, a second-year student studying biology from Chicago, the passport drive offered her a chance to explore study abroad options, as well as the ability to finally visit family members in Mexico.

Fourth-year student Julius Snipes, a computer science major from Dover, Delaware, is looking forward to a trip to Greece with his girlfriend. He also plans to travel to Africa with his girlfriend, who is from Nigeria, and he wants to explore his own ancestry there.

“Going into adulthood after graduation, I really want to travel,” he said. “When I saw the email about this event, it was perfect. I just signed up and Penn Abroad made it easy for me. They handled all the hard stuff.”

Saragail Irons, a first-year English major from Killen, Alabama, said no one in her family has ever gone abroad or held a passport, but she’s always dreamed of traveling internationally. She’d looked into applying for a passport before, but it seemed too complicated and pricey.

“This has opened up the door for me. It’s just wonderful,” she said. “I have made international friends here at Penn and they want me to visit them and before it didn’t seem possible, especially with the financial barrier. And this event just completely got rid of all of that.”

Irons’ roommate is from Turkey and she’s most looking forward to visiting her.

“I feel really excited because now all I have to do is sit back and wait for my passport,” she said.