The Spark Program offers select undergraduate students the opportunity to learn about high-impact educational experiences, campus resources, and fellowship opportunities, while providing them with the tools to develop competitive fellowship applications.
The Spark Program at Penn State is a joint initiative between the Office for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Mentoring and Penn State University Libraries. Originally developed at University at Buffalo, SUNY, the Spark Program was launched at University Park in spring 2018.
Held in the spring for first-year undergraduates and in the fall for second-year undergraduates, the Spark Program introduces students to resources around campus and opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Participants are expected to meet individually with representatives of URFM and the University Libraries during the program.
Interested students must submit a statement (see below) to be considered for the program. Selected students should have a GPA of 3.3 or higher and have already made a positive impression on faculty and staff. Participants must commit to attending at least six 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.
In the first-year program, participants are introduced to such topics as navigating obstacles, student engagement, undergraduate research, and making the most of their undergraduate careers at Penn State. 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.
The spring 2021 program will be conducted remotely Tuesdays from noon - 1 PM throughout mid-February and March. Applications are welcome from all campuses. Participants are expected to attend at least six of the seven workshops.
Application and Decision Timeline
Early January – Application Opens
Mid-January – Application Deadline
Late January – Decision Notification
In the second-year program, participants are introduced to such topics as developing a personal mission statement, preparing typical application materials, requesting strong letters of recommendation, and making the most of their undergraduate careers at Penn State. The program is designed to give participants the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and technical writing, and envision their future. Throughout the program, participants work on the application materials for one of three opportunities (Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Student Engagement Network Grant, Erickson Discovery grant) OR a pre-approved research experience or internship (application materials must include a personal narrative of some kind).
The fall 2020 program will be conducted remotely Tuesday afternoons throughout October and November. Applications are welcome from all campuses. Participants are expected to attend at least six of the seven workshops.
Application and Decision Timeline
Mid-August – Application Opens
September 18 – Application Deadline
September 25 – Decision Notification
The application is currently closed. Check back in August to submit your interest statement!
Carley Anne Palkon
Daniela Lopez Melean