The first time Christiana Kallon ‘11 visited the William & Mary campus, it was just three weeks before her classes began as an entering freshman. In fact, she had never heard of the College until her junior year at the American International School of Dhaka in Bangladesh.
That’s when she met Dean of Admission Henry Broaddus, who was visiting her school as part of the Overseas Schools Project run through the U.S. Department of State. While Broaddus was there to talk about the overall American college experience and the admission process for U.S. universities, his pride in William & Mary was obvious.
Kallon wanted to know more.
“After his presentation, we sat and talked,” remembers Kallon. “I heard about the Sunken Garden, William & Mary’s history of American presidents. He just had some great stories about the College."
Later, Kallon said, she and her family explored the College’s website to learn more. “It was a great school and offering a great education,” she said. “So we said ‘Why not?’ I decided to apply.”
For more than 35 years, the State Department has teamed with the College Board to facilitate the Overseas Schools Project. The project is designed to provide college guidance for students, parents, counselors and administrators. Officials from top institutions travel to high schools across the globe to assist students who may be considering a college education in the United States. Last year, the project sent college admissions officials to 47 schools around the world to meet with more than 3,400 students and nearly 600 parents. Admissions officials hold workshops, provide consulting to high school counselors and principals, and conduct outreach to Embassy staff and families.
“I’m there as a representative for U.S. higher education,” Broaddus said. “I’m serving as a resource for the school to ensure the families there are getting the kind of access to college admission representatives that can be harder to come by outside of the U.S.”
All the schools are American International Schools, and a substantial portion of their enrollment includes U.S. citizens – including many Virginia residents – whose parents are involved in government work. Broaddus explained that one of the project's primary objectives is to ensure that families working abroad to serve U.S. interests do not have to worry that their children will have a more difficult experience than their domestic counterparts when navigating the college application process.
“The Overseas Schools Project is staffed by a small group of admissions officers from top flight United States universities who travel the globe to assist U.S. students living overseas in gaining admission to institutions of higher education in this country,” said Keith Miller, director of the Department of State's Office of Overseas Schools. “We are delighted that Henry Broaddus is a member of this group, and we are most appreciative of his efforts, which play a critical role in supporting our government’s diplomatic initiatives abroad.”
In addition to William & Mary, the other institutions represented on the committee for the Overseas Schools Project are Wesleyan, Notre Dame and Columbia. Each member of the committee has responsibility for a region, and the territory managed by Broaddus includes the Near East, South Asia and the the Mediterranean. He has traveled to schools in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Spain, Morroco, Tunisia, Italy and Portugal. Additionally, he works with a state department regional education officer to assign trips within the region to admission officers from Brown University, Washington & Lee and the University of Virginia.
Broaddus, who also serves as William & Mary’s associate provost for enrollment, has participated in the State Department program the past five years. He emphasizes that his trips are not recruiting trips for the College “but inevitably they extend the reach of William & Mary’s brand. The admission process at William & Mary forms the basis for many of my explanations and examples. So this certainly raises our institutional profile in markets we can’t reach otherwise.”
Before she met Broaddus, Kallon had never heard of the nation’s second-oldest college. Originally from Sierra Leone, she traveled her entire life and went to American schools in Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, and Bangladesh. Her father works for the United Nations as country director for the World Food Program in Iraq.
Today, it’s hard to imagine William & Mary without her. The senior and sociology major said Broaddus also took an active interest in her work at William & Mary. She has served as an orientation area director, as the president of the African Cultural Society, and as a multicultural recruitment intern in the Office of Admission to help organize events such as the Mosaic Festival during the weekend for admitted students and the Escape program where William & Mary students serve as overnight hosts for prospective students.
Kallon has immersed herself into the Tribe family
“I am really interested in getting people here and helping them get integrated into the community,” said Kallon, who also has spoken to her school in Bangladesh about her William & Mary experience.
“I am really grateful that Henry took that trip that year,” she said. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here – I might be at UVA. Sometimes one person makes a huge difference.”
And, she adds, “This is such a great school. How did I never hear about it before?”