Project MAAP (Magnolia Abroad Access Program)
2013 Heiskell Award Winner: Study Abroad
Nomination submitted by: David F. Taylor, Assistant Director for Study Abroad
In 2009, when Wake Forest launched its Magnolia Scholars Program for first-generation college students, the Center for International Studies created a partnership with that program to ensure that this cohort of students would be able to study abroad. Wake Forest University’s Project MAAP is designed to assist students from start to finish. It begins with the premise that study abroad can be the most transformational experience for an undergraduate and that all students stand to benefit from such an experience. It takes direct aim at many of the barriers that often prevent first-generation students from studying abroad (i.e. finances, academic fit, reservations from family and friends, and fear of the unknown).
Project MAAP has successfully reached out to 111 Magnolia Scholars since inception. In the first three years, the initiative has helped 34 first-generation students to incorporate a study abroad experience into their studies - a 42% participation rate compared with first-generation study abroad participation rates as low as 10% in some studies. The project’s success is noteworthy and serves as a powerful model for increasing study abroad, specifically for students facing myriad barriers.
What sets this program apart is its wide-ranging, comprehensive approach towards effecting lasting change. Among the key support activities involved in making study abroad a success are the following activities: passport workshops to assist students through the process of acquiring a passport; targeted scholarships to first-generation students for whom financial concerns are one of the biggest obstacles to study abroad; and outreach to engage families of Magnolia scholars. In addition, a range of specialized programming is offered throughout the year to encourage, engage and prepare students for an abroad experience. Particular emphasis is placed on engaging the first-generation cohort.
Wake Forest University’s comprehensive and collaborative initiative goes a long way in furthering its mission of creating a “more diverse learning community where international study and understanding are priorities.”