She said that another benefit of the drive is that participants typically receive their passports in just a few weeks — half the time they would if they applied through the mail.
In addition to the drive, the University also offers the “Passport to Go!” program through the Center for Global Initiatives, which provides eligible first-years and new transfer students with a free passport.
“For most of our applicants, this is the time when they're going to be getting their passports,” Samantha Horn, program manager of Passport to Go!, said. “This can really be a life-changing experience, particularly for students who haven't had the chance to travel globally before.”
Michal Osterweil, professor in the global studies department, said that programs like the Passport Drive and Passport to Go! help students who may not have the ability to travel abroad otherwise.
“We do know that students who haven’t traveled abroad before are the ones that financially come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and may be living in rural places where it’s harder to do that,” Osterweil said. “It just opens up those possibilities and tries to take away some of the structural barriers.”
Since the drive started nearly 16 years ago, McMurray said the program has been able to serve over 4,000 people. She said she expects over 300 attendees over the two days this year.
Those interested in attending will need to check on the Global Center’s website to make sure they bring all the necessary materials, as they vary by circumstance.
“It’s just a small thing that UNC Global can do to support our students and faculty and staff doing international activities,” McMurray said. “There’s often a lot of challenges you can go through, and this is a way we can make it easy for you.”