Support from board member provides students with passport opportunity

A journey may start with a single step, but an international step requires a passport — and for Albion College students, that start is now a lot more accessible.

January 9, 2023

By Jake Weber

Jeff Weedman, ’75

Thanks to the support of Board of Trustee member and alumni Jeff, ’75, and Cheri Lee Weedman, ’77, the Albion Explorers Passport Program will now provide funding and application support for any student who is a U.S citizen and doesn’t have a U.S. passport and wants one.

“It is much easier to get a passport than people think, and we in CIE are here to help every step of the way. We’re encouraging all eligible students to get a passport, regardless of whether or not they have an international trip planned,” said Cristen Casey, director of Albion’s Center for International Education (CIE). “We hope that this will become a rite of passage for all first-year Albion students, and that every student will have a passport before they graduate.”

Casey acknowledged the Weedman gift will enable many students and families to consider international opportunities that might have otherwise seemed out of reach. It’s not about convenience, Casey says. Simply having a passport can transform a person’s outlook on their college career and open up opportunities for future employment and growth.

“All students can benefit from the access and freedom that a passport offers. Having a U.S. passport is a great equalizer, whether students are traveling with an Albion class now, studying abroad in a later semester, presenting their academic work globally in graduate school or making a last-minute international business trip in the distant future,” said Casey. “You can even use it as a form of official ID when you’re getting on a plane. Having a passport in your pocket will never be easier than it is now, thanks to the Weedman family donation.”

“Since the program opened in October, 81 Albion students have expressed interest and 18 have started the process of getting their passports. Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible, and CIE is happy to help,” Casey said.

This year, at least four class field trips and one student organization are expected to travel abroad. Add to this the students who will do an off-campus semester, take a research trip, visit an international friend they met in Michigan and it’s clear — international travel is part of the Albion experience.

“I still remember getting my first U.S. passport when I was in college, and all of the opportunities that came from that first step,” said Casey. “Even if students haven’t planned a global experience yet, it will be so much easier to take advantage of future opportunities when this step is done. It is exciting that every eligible Albion student who wants one will have one!”

Students interested in the Albion Explorers Passport Program can apply for funding. The Center for International Education (CIE) is located in Vulgamore 306, and can be reached at [email protected].