First-year students invited to apply to new Spark fellowship development program

Participants will learn about fellowship opportunities and receive guidance from past recipients.

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The University Fellowships Office is accepting applications for its inaugural Spark Program for first-year students interested in joining the long list of Penn Staters who have received prestigious national and international fellowships.

Applications will be accepted through Jan. 12 at

During a seven-week course, participants will have the opportunity to meet and learn from faculty and former students who have applied for and earned prestigious awards.

Caitlin Ting, interim director of the University Fellowships Office, is proud of the success Penn State students have found through fellowships like Fulbright, Astronaut, Goldwater and Boren, and hopes to reach more students to make them aware of these opportunities and help them prepare.

“I am excited to bring the Spark Program to Penn State,” said Ting. “It was originally developed at the University of Buffalo and has succeeded in introducing students to campus resources, faculty mentors, and fellowship opportunities. We have so many stellar undergraduates at Penn State, but not many know what a fellowship is or self-identify as a competitive applicant.”

In addition to highlighting available opportunities, the courses, held over dinner, will give students the tools they need to develop a competitive profile. Topics that will be emphasized include undergraduate research and internships, leadership and civic engagement, guidance on working with faculty, and how to write a compelling personal statement.

According to Ting, the Spark Program will help students assess their strengths, develop critical thinking and technical writing skills, envision their future, and create a plan to help them along their envisioned path.

“My hope is that this program will give students an opportunity to reflect on their interests and intended career paths, and ultimately give them ownership of their undergraduate career,” said Ting.

Faculty interested in recommending a first-year student for the Spark Program can email Ting at, or fill out a recommendation form at On the form, please specify that you are recommending a student for the Spark Program.

The University Fellowships Office is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated September 28, 2017