Spark Program

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: Utilizing University Resources: Libraries, LionLink, and URFM.

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

Start an application today!


Sarah Alexander
Ahmad Alrefai
Julia Briselli
Caroline Conroy
Gabrielle Davis
Christina DeAngelo
Peyton Harris
Shana Hartwick
Jamie Kantorczyk
Sanika Kinare
Sonia Kumar
Muggs Leone
Yuan Li
Michael Licata
Alexandra Loomis
Caroline Most
Meghan Nguyen
John Park
Graham Pease
Meghan Quaid
Hedaya Sharbaji
Sabrina Smith
Shixing Yuan
Alexandria Ziegler
Luke Zwicker

FALL 2020

Hamza Al-Aufi
Alex Benedict
Amelia Dodoo
Ernesto Estremera Jr.
Rachel Foster
Jessica Garcia
Katelyn  Lopez
Catlin Lowes
Erica Mi
Shruti Natal
Abhinav Pandey
Harshika Thard
Sharon Wu
Jianan Ye
Casey Zanowic


Olivia Cordano
Janiyah Davis
Nicholas Evans
Mya Haynes
Charlize Kenyatta
Abby Mikalauskas
Aubrey Miller
Colleen Nersten
Carley Anne Palkon
Cassidy Pitts
Kyra Pond
Nicholas Ryan
Michael Saylor
Allan Smith
Caeden Smith
Jada Spady
Ian Stahley
Julia West
Katerina Wood
Jarod Yu
Katon Zhang

FALL 2019

Ishaan Anavkar
Katie Kohlman
Sam Kupp
Daniela Lopez Melean
Kelly Matuszewski
Katie McRury
Julia Montevechi
Julen Omaechevarria
Oliva Piechocinski
Carita Reid
Jay Sim
Renee Sollenberger
Ava Sullivan
Harry Weidner


Nathan Bickus
Leah Bilker
George Gines
Gabrielle Henrichs
Travis Jalowiec
Yiming Jiang
Victoria LaRow
Emma LeMay
Ethan Liebross
Xavier Mack
Vanshika Madaan
Javier Montaner
Bram Nealon
Hudson Pepper
Scott Pike
Clarissa Pun
Oliver Rose
Renee Sollenberger
Victor Suhendra
Olivia Tancredi
Ashley Wagner
Xinrui Zhou

FALL 2018

Danielle Bradley
Erin Brown
Sofia Capece
Jessica Fantasia
Gabrielle Herman
Jacob Iwinski
Phoebe McClincy
Uchenna Nwodim
Katie Pighini
Steven Schneible
Skyler Sites
Abigail Slate
Nina Trach


Bianca Borda
Amanda Byrd
Cali Carper
Natalie Cummings
Alexa DeLuzio
Garrett Drum
Josh Forrest
Luke Guyer
David Kennedy
Sam Landmesser
Lauren Lipson
Chris Long
Aubrey McElrath
Michael Miller
Haley Myer
Kaleigh Quinnan
Charles Ryan
Lucy Spicher
Anastasia Wagner
Kelly Wallert
Owen Wing