When students from Lublin, Poland, begin their college careers at Mercyhurst this year, they’ll find themselves part of the new “Jim Thompson Sister City Scholarship Program,” honoring the prominent Erie government leader who established an association with Lublin and orchestrated numerous student exchanges over the years.
Formerly known as the Erie-Lublin Sister City Scholarship Competition, Mercyhurst has chosen to rename the program in honor of Thompson, who died last fall. The announcement will be made Saturday, Jan. 22, during the annual Polish Heritage Day celebration at the Erie Maennerchor, which Thompson attended annually, often in the company of Mercyhurst’s Polish students.
One of those students is Marta Baran of Lublin, who graduated from Mercyhurst last year and is now working in the college’s service learning office with AmeriCorps*VISTA. Baran will represent Mercyhurst at the celebration and also announce the renaming of the college’s scholarship program, according to Eric Evans, director of international admissions.
“I am honored to do this because Mr. Thompson was like a father to me,” Baran said. “He helped start this program at Mercyhurst and we have him to thank for the many opportunities we have had here. What we have accomplished in the States we owe to him. This is a wonderful way for Mercyhurst to continue Mr. Thompson’s legacy.”
Currently, Mercyhurst enrolls eight students from Lublin. In all, the college has 226 international students from 46 countries, approximately 6 percent of its student body. The college was recently recognized by U.S.News & World Report for enrolling one of the highest percentages of international students among its rankings of “best regional universities” in the North. The report shows Mercyhurst tied for ninth place out of the 172 colleges making the list. (See separate story.)