Mount Holyoke, Smith offer scholarships for students from Puerto Rico

  • Mount Holyoke College graduates applaud after their entire class received their diplomas during commencement at Mount Holyoke College, May 21.

  • Smith College graduates applaud May 21 during the 139th commencement ceremony at Smith College Quadrangle in Northampton.

Staff Writer
Published: 11/13/2017 6:33:57 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges are extending scholarship aid to students from Puerto Rico in recognition of the devastating effects that Hurricane Maria has had on the island.

Mount Holyoke will offer two full, four-year scholarships to first-year students and two $25,000 scholarships to students transferring from the University of Puerto Rico.

Smith is offering to cover tuition, room and board for the spring 2018 semester for University of Puerto Rico students displaced by the hurricane.

“Mount Holyoke has educated women from all over the world,” said Gail Berson, the college’s vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions. “It (Puerto Rico) represents part of the United States we have always been committed to.”

Berson noted that the college has a number of alumnae from Puerto Rico.

Two of the scholarships will be awarded to new first-year students from Puerto Rico, and will cover four years of tuition, which the college says is close to a $200,000 value.

Two other scholarships will be given to students transferring from the University of Puerto Rico due to storm-related circumstances. Each of these scholarships will be $25,000 a year, and can be renewed up to two times under normal circumstances.

A student who applies to Mount Holyoke and qualifies for either of the scholarships will be automatically placed in the running for them.

In addition to tuition, room and board, Smith College’s new visiting student program will provide a stipend to cover books, personal expenses and travel costs.

“Our goal is to allow these students to continue their studies at an outstanding liberal arts college with a welcoming, supportive community,” said Audrey Smith, the college’s vice president for enrollment.

The application deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 6. Stacey Scmeidel, Smith’s director of media relations, said Tuesday that there’s no set limit on the number of students who will be accepted. “We hope we might get as many as 10,” she said.

Berson said that one of the reasons why Mount Holyoke has chosen to offer the scholarships is because it was unable to send admissions counselors there this year, due to the effects of Hurricane Maria.

“The destruction was so widespread and the devastation so significant,” said Berson, who said counselors would get in the way if they were sent now.

Mount Holyoke sent counselors to more than 30 states and 26 countries this year.

Berson said that offering these scholarships is a way of showing the college’s commitment to the island, even with this circumstance. She also said she hopes that those who receive them will be able to use their Mount Holyoke educations to give back to the island in the coming years.

While the application deadline for the college is Jan. 15, Berson said those whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Maria, as well as the other hurricanes that have hit the United States and the wildfires in California, can contact the college for an extension.

Berson said the money comes from the nearly $50 million that Mount Holyoke awards each year in scholarships.

Editor’s note: This story was modified on Tuesday, Nov. 14, to clarify how many visiting students from Puerto Rico will be accepted.

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