Marc Caron, SVR Steering Committee Member interview with

Paul Hersh, Director – Strategic Planning and Initiatives, Columbia Global Centers

March 4, 2021

Columbia Global Centers

The Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students started as a student project within the Columbia School of Business specifically focused on Syrian students. The scholarship initiative was taken over by the Columbia Global Centers which expanded the program across Columbia University’s sixteen colleges. Additionally, eligibility was globalized and the scholarship augmented to cover the full cost of attendance. In its first year of the current format, the scholarship is serving a cohort of eighteen students from thirteen different countries with 70% of the funding provided through the cooperation of individual colleges within the university. The remaining funding comes from donor support. Following along with the overarching mission of Columbia University, the scholarship program brings the benefit of Columbia University to the whole world. 

The Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students uses a multi-faceted approach to student outreach and awareness. Paul Hersh describes it as “a multi-part initiative. First, we really leverage the Columbia communication channels. You know the website, social media, and newsletter announcements. Plus, we also have the Global Centers network.” Located in nine cities - Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, Rio, Santiago, and Tunis - the global centers are engaged with the refugee and displaced persons issue and have cultivated audiences and expertise on the subject matter allowing Columbia University to identify potential students and reach target populations. Further, Columbia University also partners with organizations like the UNHCR, local organizations in New York City, and others near the Global Centers.

The Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students has found success bringing students from refugee backgrounds to continue their education at a leading global university. According to Paul, similar scholarship initiatives could find success by “mapping out the specific structure and nature of your own organization, identifying the key decision makers and then building those relationships.” Additional recommendations include determining and establishing a sustainable funding model, aligning the scholarship with the university mission, getting support from administration, discovering what works and what needs to be adapted by starting small or building a pilot program, and talking to other universities that are providing the same type of scholarship to garner further guidance and recommendations.

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Meet SVR Volunteer, Marc Caron

Marc Caron, SVR Steering Committee Member. 

Marc Caron is a Master’s candidate in the Peace and Conflict Studies department at UNC-Greensboro. His passion lies in creating equal opportunities for all individuals allowing communities to reach their full potential. This has led to a research focus on building cultures of peace that value alternatives to violence through peace education initiatives. Marc currently serves as Executive Director of C.O.N.F.L.I.C.T. Alliance, a student group within the Peace and Conflict Studies Department and is a member of the executive board of the Global Journal of Peace Research and Praxis (UNCG).