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 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 introductions.
Week 2: Overview of fellowships and qualities of a competitive applicant; panel with Spark alumni and fellowship recipients.
Week 3: Strengths and interests assessment with the 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: Undergraduate Research 101: Student panel on undergraduate research.
Week 7: Research roundtable with research mentors.
Week 8: Telling your story through application materials.
Week 9: Utilizing University Resources: Nittany Lion Careers and LionLink, Libraries and URFM.
For Spring 2022, an in-person program will be conducted Tuesdays from 6 – 7 PM Eastern at University Park and a remote program will be offered over Zoom Wednesdays from 3:30 - 4:30 PM Eastern. Both programs will begin the first week of February and run through the first week of April, exclduing the week of spring break. Applications are welcome from all campuses. Participants are expected to attend at least eight of the nine workshops.
Application and Decision Timeline
Mid-December– Application Opens
January 17 – Application Deadline
January 21 – Decision Notification
Ernesto Estremera Jr.
Carley Anne Palkon
Daniela Lopez Melean