The Spark Program offers select undergraduate students the opportunity to learn about high-impact educational experiences, University resources, and fellowship opportunities, 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 in spring 2018.
The Spark Program brings together first- and second-year undergraduates and introduces them to University resources, as well as opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Participants are expected to meet individually with representatives of the University Libraries and URFM during the program.
Interested students must submit a statement (see below) to be considered for the program. Participants must commit to attending at least eight of the workshops.
The opportunities that are discussed do not cover the expenses of medical, dental, law, or pharmacy school. Therefore, the Spark Program is not the best fit 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 and scholarships.
Week 2: Meet Spark alumni and fellowship recipients.
Week 3: "What are your strengths?" workshop with the Career Services.
Week 4: Choose your own adventure: student engagement.
Week 5: Oh the places you can go! Diversifying your undergraduate experience with internships and study abroad.
Week 6: Undergraduate Research 101.
Week 7: Research roundtables with research mentors.
Week 8: Telling your story in fellowship applications.
Week 9: Staying in touch: Utilizing the Libraries and searching for fellowships and scholarships.
New fall 2021, two versions of the program will be offered. An in-person program will be conducted Tuesdays from 6 – 7 PM Eastern and a remote program will be offered over Zoom Wednesdays from 12:20 - 1:10 PM Eastern. Both programs will begin the first week of October and run through the final week of classes. Applications are welcome from all campuses. Participants are expected to attend at least eight of the nine workshops.
Application and Decision Timeline
Mid-August – Application Opens
September 6 – Application Deadline
September 13 – Decision Notification
Ernesto Estremera Jr.
Carley Anne Palkon
Daniela Lopez Melean