Spark Program

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.

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

The application is currently closed. Check back in January to submit your interest statement!

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 ScholarshipStudent Engagement Network GrantErickson 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

Submit your interest statement today!

SPRING 2020

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

SPRING 2019

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

SPRING 2018

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