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Smith College to offer scholarship to illegal immigrants

‘Smith is committed to a diverse student body, regardless of citizenship status’

A prestigious New England college has instituted a new scholarship intended in part for illegal immigrant students.

The Marianne Ejier Olds ’47 Scholarship Fund will “support the education of students who are U.S. permanent residents with refugee or asylum status, undocumented students and international students at Smith [College],” according to Smith’s news portal.

The scholarship was established by Jacqueline Olds, the daughter of Marianne Ejier Olds. The elder Olds was an alumna of Smith, having been accepted in 1943 as part of the college’s refugee admissions program after having fled Nazi rule in Europe.

“It is important,” Jacqueline Olds said, “that the college be able to continue to support the educational needs of these students who face unique challenges. Someone needs to stick up for refugees, and I hope this sets an example for others to follow.”

The scholarship, of course, is not limited to “refugees” but is open to international students and illegal immigrants as well.

Smith affirms its commitment to undocumented individuals in its financial aid literature, assuring prospective students that the school “is committed to enrolling a diverse and accomplished student body, regardless of citizenship status.”

Yet while Smith extends its standard financial aid and scholarship opportunities to illegal immigrant students, the Marianne Ejier Olds ’47 scholarship is the first one to do so explicitly.

From the news release:

Smith President Kathleen McCartney said the scholarship bolsters the college’s commitment to supporting and including all members of the community.

“Smith has a long and proud history of opening its doors to women from all over the world and making sure they have the means to succeed. This is especially important for refugees,” McCartney said. “I am grateful to Jacqueline Olds for her generosity and for her belief in the power of a Smith education.”

Since February, when President Donald Trump proposed a travel ban for people from six predominantly Muslim nations, McCartney has spoken out about the college’s responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of all of its students.

McCartney said ensuring that undocumented students continue to have equal access to financial aid is a priority for the college.

“I remain adamantly committed to nondiscrimination in access to education regardless of citizenship or immigration status,” she wrote in a Feb. 7 letter to the Smith community.

The scholarship was created as part of Smith’s “Promise to the Future” initiative, which “inspired donors to either add to or establish new scholarship funds of $250,000 or more.”

Read the news release here.

MORE: Emory University to pay ‘100 percent’ of the financial need of students in country illegally

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