The Brown International Organization Scholarship Committee is on its way to complete fundraising for its fifth endowed scholarship, to be awarded by the Office of Admission to an international student as part of the organization's endowed scholarship fund.The committee is a student group that aims to diversify the international undergraduate population through two programs — its scholarship fund and an ambassador program, according to the group's website.
The fund was created in 1997 by a group of students, and since then has funded four scholarships, said Anne Francois-Poncet '10.5, senior adviser to the committee. "Ideally, we would like to establish one fully endowed scholarship every year," she said.
"The most important thing is to create awareness," said Angela Wu '11, committee president.
The international organization's long-term vision is to have Brown adopt a need-blind policy for international students, Francois-Poncet said. Unlike at some other Ivy League schools — including Yale, Princeton and Harvard — international student admission is not need-blind at Brown.
The organization's scholarships are generally funded by anonymous Brown parents, alums and friends of the University. Scholarship committee members give speeches at events such as the Family Weekend reception and during Commencement to reach potential donors, Francois-Poncet said. Efforts are also being poured into revamping the scholarship committee website to improve visibility, she said.
The committee is only in charge of spreading awareness and fundraising, not the selection process, Wu said. The admission office allocates the scholarships based on need and availability, Francois-Poncet said. "We're not in control of the finances, so the different funds vary in terms of how much they yield," she said.
At any given time, four students are receiving these scholarships, Francois-Poncet said. The committee doesn't know who benefits because all financial aid is confidential. "We are not necessarily aware of how many students have benefitted exactly, but we think it's been pretty significant in the lives of a handful of students," she said.
Last year, the committee decided to approach the other side of international admissions, establishing the organization's Ambassadorship Program, which is open to any students who anticipate spending an extended period of time abroad. The purpose of the program is "to raise awareness about Brown abroad and to increase Brown's internationalization, global presence and competition internationally," Francois-Poincet said.
Ambassadors reach out to high schools not targeted by the admission office and make a "Brown Near You" presentation from the perspective of students. They can also accompany admission officers to complement the official presentations.
The idea for the program came from speaking to international students about their experiences, Francois-Poncet said. "A lot of us were unable to benefit from the students' perspective," she said. "This is an important aspect of the whole application and decision process."
Having ambassadors speak to prospective applicants "gives the school a face," Wu said.
"The best part was seeing the students' excitement," said ambassador Melissa Kiplagat '13. Kiplagat gave an informal presentation at the Hillcrest Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya, which she attended. "In the U.K., you can't major in certain things without the right A-levels. I think finding out that they could come to Brown and do whatever they wanted to was an eye-opener," she said.
"The most challenging thing was to try to give a fair picture of the entire community," ambassador Urmila Chadayammuri '13 wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. "The best part was definitely when the questions started coming in," she wrote.
The scholarship committee acts as the liaison between ambassadors and the admissions office, Wu said.
"We want the program to be really systematized and to create a whole Brown network abroad," Francois-Poncet said. "If all the students get together and do this in an organized way, we can actually reach out to a lot of high schools and students," Wu said.
A little over 100 trained ambassadors have come out of the Ambassadorship Program to date, and about 48 are currently abroad, Wu said. The program also aims to help students returning from abroad reconnect and adjust to being back on the Brown campus through welcome-back socials, she said.
The Office of International Programs has been instrumental in making the Ambassadorship Program possible, Wu said. Associate Director of International Programs Ned Quigley has served as a mentor for the program, providing feedback and support in reaching out to students going abroad, Wu said.
There has been an active movement in admissions toward internationalizing, Quigley said.
"This kind of outreach is not done by many colleges internationally," Quigley said. "That distinguishes this program."