UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Health and Human Development has joined the Millennium Scholars Program at Penn State, a University initiative designed to recruit high achieving students from diverse backgrounds who are planning to pursue doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and careers in scientific research.
Millennium Scholars receive generous financial, advising, and peer support while completing a rigorous program of leadership and professional development to prepare them for doctoral training.
From the College of Health and Human Development, select programs offered by the departments of Biobehavioral Health, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Kinesiology, and Nutritional Sciences will be open to Millennium Scholars.
Recruiting for the inaugural class of Health and Human Development Millennium Scholars will begin soon, where first-year students will join the University’s 10th class of incoming scholars in summer 2022. The college plans to engage generous alumni and friends in helping to build scholarship support for this program.
“The college wants to be part of this program to give promising students interested in the health sciences access to this great opportunity” said Craig Newschaffer, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean and Professor of Biobehavioral Health. “Millennium Scholars is also a program that has been empirically demonstrated to improve retention rates and raise average GPA for cohort participants. The program as implemented in other Penn State colleges has been carefully evaluated with results published in a leading scientific journal, Science Magazine.”
The program also helps promote college and University initiatives focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Inclusivity benefits science, including the health sciences, and we need more leaders in health sciences from diverse backgrounds,” Newschaffer stated. “Currently only 6 percent of research grants from the National Institutes of Health go to scientists from under-represented minority backgrounds. The College of Health and Human Development aspires to graduate more students who will go on to be the next generation of diverse health science research leaders. Millennium Scholars can help us do that.”
The Millennium Scholars Program is a tight-knit scholarly community that first forms during a summer bridge program when students matriculate to Penn State.
Students in the program maintain a standard of academic excellence and participate in research and active-learning experiences throughout their education at Penn State. Millennium Scholars typically present their research nationally and/or internationally before graduating.
“One of the most notable outcomes from the Millennium Scholars program is its impact on increasing the number and diversity of doctoral scholars committed to solving global problems,” said Amy Freeman, director of the Millennium Scholars program. “Health and Human Development brings an added list of research areas and platforms leading to new discoveries by future professionals. Every student brings a part of their college culture to Millennium Scholars, making the collaborative STEM community even richer.”
Established in 2013, the participants in the first classes of Penn State’s Millennium Scholars program are now completing their graduate training, with the first round of doctoral degrees expected in 2021-22. Two hundred and twenty-nine Millennium Scholars have participated in the program since its inception, with 84% continuing to graduation. Over half of those graduating with a bachelor of science degree are admitted directly in STEM doctoral programs across the nation. Of the 147 students currently enrolled, 80% are racially under-represented and 67% are women.
“Millennium Scholars is different from other scholarly programs in that it is an ongoing, four-year leadership initiative that specifically prepares a diverse group of students for research, doctoral study, and global leadership. In addition, it is based on the model of building a strong, collaborative learning community, constantly sharing in strategies for overcoming challenges and celebrating successes together,” said Freeman.
“Alumni have indicated that the Millennium Scholars experience has opened numerous professional doors and led to lifelong friendships.”
Penn State’s Millennium Scholars Program is modeled after the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a nationally recognized program that uses research-supported strategies to yield higher levels of graduate school acceptance for STEM undergraduates.