Elizabethtown College offers scholarships for Syrian refugees

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ELIZABETHTOWN, LANCASTER CO., Pa. -- Elizabethtown College is putting out the welcome mat for Syrian refugees with scholarships.

The school is offering to pay a four-year tuition for those students.

The semester is over now, but a couple students on campus doing research or working their way through school shared their thoughts.

Both those students and the college agree that it's part of the school's tradition.

With an offer of scholarships to Syrian refugees, 'Welcome to Elizabethtown College' aren't simply words on a sign, but practically a mission statement.

Elizabethtown College senior Morgan Chambers said, "I think it's a great opportunity for people, as the Syrian refugees."

Sophomore Samuel Niebla said, "The refugees need our help. They're out there, we're here to help. E-town is very open to helping with diversity."

The school is inviting five Syrian refugees to become students, with the added bonus of $25,000 paid towards their tuition.

Elizabethtown College President Dr. Carl J. Strikwerda said, "The college has had a long standing commitment to social justice and peace issues, and we thought this was one step that's more than symbolic that we could do."

Some may see these scholarships as taking money away from those here at home.

"I guarantee there's going to be people saying that, but what can you do. There's going to be naysayers and there's going to be people for it," Niebla

"We're not taking money away from any domestic student, or any other international student. We have the infrastructure here. We can have a few more students. They're having to meet the same admission requirements," Dr. Strikwerda said.

"The Syrian refugees shouldn't be seen as taking any money away, because they do do their best to give people in the United States and PA, as much money and aid as possible," Chambers said.

Two Syrian students have already applied, if accepted, some say they're not taking anything away but adding to an already diverse campus.

"You can see it around campus, especially with the different types of exchange students we have here at E-town, and I think it's even better to have the refugees here as well," Niebla said.

"It's just fun to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds, and it just really helps to define your experience here and in college," Chambers said.

The college is taking applications for this fall. Students must have basic math and science skills to get accepted into the school.

The scholarships won't pay tuition in full. Students will have to make up about a $15,000 difference, but many students apply for additional scholarships or take jobs working on campus to earn the necessary money.