WKU and the immigrant community

Molly Dobberstein, News reporter

WKU and the Bowling Green community are hosting multiple events in order to assist immigrants within the community.

John Sunnygard, associate provost for Global Learning and International Affairs, said that two main programs will be hosted in the coming weeks, particularly for immigrants.

WelcomeCorps will be discussed at the event, “a service opportunity for Americans to welcome refugees seeking freedom and safety and, in turn, make a difference in their own communities,” as posted on the WelcomeCorps website.

Sunnygard said the program enables small groups of Americans to sponsor certified refugees into their community.

“Faculty and staff from colleges and universities from around Kentucky will participate in this training supported by NASH Catalyst Fund, CPE, and WKU Global,” Sunnygard said. Registration is required and space will be limited, and representation from the university and community will be balanced, Sunnygard said.

In July 2022, the Commonwealth of Kentucky created the Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Program, Sunnyguard said. With this, WKU has received $914,000 in scholarship funds to send WKU students abroad and support refugee students, Sunnygard said.

With KISPP, the commonwealth of Kentucky is the first state to develop a scholarship program intended to support refugee students at public universities and colleges.

WKU welcomed 16 students this year who fit into the category of a displaced student, who qualify for scholarship, with more than 30 students expected in the fall of 2023, Sunnygard said.

Additionally, the Resilient Refugee Program was developed as a refugee task force for WKU in January 2022 with support from the NASH Catalyst fund to implement a “student-to-student Navigator program,” according to the website. The Resilient Refugee Program offers displaced students eligible for the KISPP “access to personalized support navigating the complexities of life at an American university,” WKU website said.

The WKU Resilient Refugee Program consists of English language instruction by Refuge BG at WKU, peer-to-peer support, international pathway to academic success then graduation.

“We quickly learned that refugees faced significant barriers and deep gaps when trying to enroll at our university,” WKU website said.

WKU offers two different programs for refugee students, the WKU Pathway to International Success, and the WKU Student-to-Student Resilient Refugee Navigator Program.

The WKU Pathway to International Success includes specific courses for first year international students, experienced faculty, co-curricular support, like tutoring, and enrichment experiences to foster friendships and a sense of belonging, WKU website said.

“Courses typically fulfill Colonnade requirements, so students are making progress toward their degree right away,” WKU’s website said. “Enrollment in IPAS can span just one semester or the entire first year on campus, depending on the needs of each student.”

The WKU Student-to-Student Resilient Refugee Navigator Program pairs current students with one to five displaced students enrolled, WKU said. “Navigator” students are in charge of assisting displaced students with tasks like learning Blackboard and Microsoft Word, attending advising appointments with students and supporting other needs, WKU’s website said.

“Through these and other initiatives, we aim to improve education access and career opportunities for displaced students,” WKU website said.

Molly Dobberstein can be reached at [email protected].