Spark Program

The Spark Program offers select undergraduate students the opportunity to learn about fellowship opportunities, high-impact educational experiences, and University resources, while providing them with the tools to develop into competitive fellowship applicants.

The Spark Program at Penn State is a joint initiative between Penn State University Libraries and Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring (URFM). Originally developed by the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, the Spark Program was launched at University Park spring 2018.

The Spark Program brings together select first- and second-year undergraduates and introduces them to nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships, as well as University resources. Participants are expected to meet individually with representatives of URFM during the program.

Interested students must submit a statement (see Participate in the Spark Program) to be considered for the program. Participants must commit to attending at least eight of the workshops.

Few of the fellowship opportunities introduced cover the expenses of medical, dental, law, or pharmacy school. Therefore, the Spark Program may not as relevant for students who plan on pursuing these career paths.

Participants of the Spark Program are introduced to such topics as participating in undergraduate research and making the most of their undergraduate careers at Penn State, writing a personal statement, and applying for national and international fellowships. The program is designed to give participants the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and technical writing, envision their future, and create a plan to help them along their envisioned path, ultimately helping participants develop into competitive candidates for major fellowship opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Tentative Program Schedule

Week 1: Welcome to the Spark Program and an overview of fellowships.

Week 2: Student panel with Spark alumni, fellowship recipients, and Undergraduate Research Ambassadors.

Week 3: "What are your strengths?" workshop with Career Services.

Week 4: Choose your own adventure: Community and civic engagement.

Week 5: Oh the places you can go! Globalizing your undergraduate experience.

Week 6: Research roundtable with research mentors.

Week 7: Telling your story through application materials.

For Fall 2022, an in-person program will be conducted Tuesdays from 6:00 – 7:00 PM Eastern at University Park. A remote program will be offered Wednesdays from 5:30 – 7:00 PM Eastern over Zoom. Both programs will begin the week of October 3 and run through the week of November 14. Applications are welcome from all campuses. Participants are expected to attend at least seven of the eight workshops.

Application and Decision Timeline

Late July – Application Opens
Late August – Application Deadline
Mid-September – Decision Notification

The application is currently closed. Please check back later!


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Alexandria Ziegler
Luke Zwicker

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