Refugees to College began with an idea in 2016 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Many research papers, emails, and meetings later, R2C became a project-oriented team of students and professionals united in accomplishing a goal crucial to our community: improving access to higher education and professional opportunities for refugees throughout the United States. We work alongside organizations for refugee resettlement, aid, and advocacy while maintaining a personal connection with individuals and families of refugees. From there, we develop a unique action plan for each refugee and their family, with the intent of developing a path to college. We primarily work with refugees seeking professional scholarship, such as continuing education as engineers, dentists, lawyers, physicians, and other high-skilled work. We are the only organization in the United States focusing on higher education for refugees through one-on-one consulting. We are internationally recognized and a proud member of the Geneva-based United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Coalition.
The Refugee Process
All of our volunteers are background checked through the federal government and fill out our nondisclosure agreement. We also ask they fill out a form determining if he or she is a student or professional, what particular skills the volunteer has to offer, and the amount of time they are able to commit.
1) A refugee contacts us or an aid agency alerts us a new refugee is in need of our services.
2) After being processed into our system, we contact the refugee to set an initial consultation date.
3) The initial consultation occurs in person through one of our consultants, and we develop the next steps for the refugee.
4) Our refugee core team meets and decides on the best further steps for the refugee while factoring skillsets and time commitment for the parties involved.
5) The volunteer performs research and communicates with our connections to complete the action plan. Eventually, volunteers give weekly progress updates to the refugee and determine additional steps. This continues until the refugee has completed their goal.
The Importance of Education
Personal growth occurs through introspection. The university experience is a time of profound personal growth for many people; it is a time that can shape one’s world view for the rest of their life. Exposure to different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints allows for a more informed, introspective campus. Refugees to College was founded at the University of Michigan by undergraduates and graduate students with this notion at the forefront of its message, to develop and possibly revitalize college campuses throughout the United States. We advocate and work for a future in which universities fully support refugees, since currently, only one percent of refugees internationally attend college. Professionally, attending college offers the opportunity to learn, develop new skills, improve job prospects, and boost self-esteem. Higher education among refugees can also lead to a well-rounded, inclusive, and diverse experience for naturalized students and refugees alike. In turn, we may perhaps all become better global citizens. In the classroom, we have much to learn from refugees, permitting they are given a chance to be supported at our universities.