A number of Bennett Belles missed out on a potentially life changing opportunity. Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux visited Haiti as the country continues to look for help following the devastating earthquake from a year ago. The president had room for one student to accompany her on the trip. She asked multiple students to attend before being able to get one student to meet one basic eligibility requirement. The student needed to own a passport.
Senior Myeisha Essex was one of the first students asked to accompany the president to Haiti. She describes her missed opportunity as an eye-opener.
“It never occurred to me that I would need a passport right now,” says Essex.
“An international experience always seemed unattainable for me; therefore a passport was the least of my worries. I wasn’t ready when I needed to be and nobody was going to wait for me to get a passport when the opportunity presented itself. Not having a passport disabled me from a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Besides not ever having thought about traveling abroad, financial aid is a raised concern. Bennett College says over half of the student body will graduate with a substantial amount of debt. Approximately 96% of the students at Bennett College depend on Financial Aid for assistance, according to Bennett College’s Office of Institutional Advancement.
While not too expensive, the rising costs of passports in the U.S. could present a burdensome challenge for one who might still be struggling to pay for tuition.
“We’re college students, we’re trying to eat everyday and pay our cell phone bills… [Passports] are not on our list of priorities,” says Essex.
The U.S. Department of State says a passport will cost most students $140, and that does not include the price of a passport picture. It could take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to process your request.
After countless efforts in trying to find a student who fit the original criteria to shadow the president, a Junior or Senior Journalism and Media Studies Major, Tatiana Walker, a junior psychology major was chosen.
Assistant Director for the Center of Global Studies, Susan Woodson, says part of the reason students are disinterested in getting passports is because global relations is not very important to Americans in general.
“That’s a big [study] in our field, we’re trying to figure out why students have yet to see outside of their country.”
Woodson says, that studying foreign languages stimulate the desire to want to go abroad.
“Realistically, not many U.S students study foreign languages to the extent or with the seriousness that foreign countries do.”
“Students don’t think about studying abroad or traveling internationally,” says Junior Danielle Brewer who recently came back from studying abroad in Ghana.
Brewer says students do not have passports because they do not understand why they would need one. She says passports are necessary in order to increase your worldview.
“It allows you to see how other cultures live in other countries, how they learn, and what their lives are like in another part of the world.”
Global Awareness is one of Dr. Malveaux’s “Four Foci” during her tenure as president at Bennett College. She has expressed her hope for every student to have at least one international experience before they graduate.
There has been a critical focus on sending students on study abroad programs. Woodson says she’s experienced a significant increase in the interest to go abroad this past year.
This spring semester Bennett will celebrating the grand opening of the new Global Studies building by hosting it’s third annual women’s leadership conference. This year’s conference is entitled “Global Leadership with a Woman’s Touch.”
The conference will feature women leaders from all over the world.
Bennett College says it will continue its efforts to give most students an opportunity to go abroad, but first they’ve got to get passports!
By: Del’Risha White
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Who should maintain a valid U.S. passport?
Passport Services recommends that the following U.S. citizens maintain valid U.S. passports.
- with family living or traveling abroad
- thinking about a vacation abroad, or
- with a job that could require international travel.
In the event of an emergency involving a family member abroad, a short-notice airfare bargain, or an unexpected business trip, already having a valid U.S. passport will save time, money and stress.
Q: How much does a U.S. passport cost?
The cost of your U.S. passport will depend on the type of passport you request and how quickly you need it. See travel.state.gov for more information on the cost of a U.S. passport book or a U.S. passport card and all associated services
Q: How long does it take to get a passport?
Processing times can vary depending on workload and occasional unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters. During busier times, such as the summer travel season, we encourage customers to expedite their applications if traveling in less than 10 weeks.
Q: I am traveling very soon. How do I get a passport in a hurry?
See travel.state.gov for more information
Q: I have a life or death emergency overseas and need a passport. What should I do?
Life or Death Emergencies involve serious illness, injury, or death in your immediate family that require you to travel within 24-48 hours to a country that requires a passport. Customers must appear in person at a passport agency for emergency service and documentation of the emergency may be requested.
Please call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 (TTY/TDD: 1-888-874-7793) to schedule an appointment at the nearest Passport Agency.
Q: How long is a passport valid and when should I renew my passport?
If you were over age 16 when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 10 years.
If you were age 15 or younger when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 5 years.
The Issue Date of your passport can be found on the data page of your Passport Book or on the front of your Passport Card.
If possible, you should renew your passport approximately nine (9) months before it expires. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six (6) months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.
Q: Help! My passport has already been issued and mailed to me, but I have not received it. What do I do?
Contact the National Passport Information Center. A Customer Service Representative will confirm the date your passport mailed to you, the address to which it was mailed and, if necessary, help you to report the non-receipt of your passport.
You have 90 days from the date your passport was issued to report that you have not yet received it in the mail. If you do not report the non-receipt of your passport within 90 days of the issue date, you will be required to reapply and submit the full passport fee.
Q: I’m renewing my passport. Do I get the old one back?
Yes, we return the old, cancelled passport to you although it may be sent separately from your new passport. It is a good idea to keep it in a safe place as it is considered proof of your U.S. citizenship.
Q: Do I have to provide my Social Security Number?
Failure to provide your Social Security Number may result in significant processing delays and/or the denial of your application.
Q: My passport has been damaged. Can I continue to use this passport?
If your passport has been significantly damaged, especially the book cover or the page displaying your personal data and photo, you will need to apply for a new passport. See travel.state.gov for more information.
Courtesy of U.S Department of State for more information log onto travel.state.gov