Biology Scholars Program at Cornell University Propels Black Students to Graduate School

cornellBiology Scholars Program (BSP) at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, offers mentoring, study groups, and guidance to biology majors from underrepresented groups. The program was established in 2006 and accepts about 35 entering students each year.

Cornell students can apply to BSP during the first semester of their freshman year. Scholars are assigned to weekly study groups. They also take two one-credit seminars freshman and sophomore year, where they talk about everything from connecting with professors to finding a research lab to exploring career options. Biology Scholars also are invited to a series of special events such as faculty dinners, social outings, alumni networking events, site visits to medical/graduate schools and guest lectures.

Since 2010 there have been 120 Biology Scholars who have graduated from the university. More than 90 percent of those who applied to medical school were accepted and enrolled. Another 19 students are enrolled in Ph.D. programs and three are enrolled in M.D./Ph.D. programs.

Jeff McCaffrey, assistant director of advising in the Office of Undergraduate Biology and coordinator of the program, states that “the success of the Biology Scholars Program stems largely from the hard work and dedication of the students themselves. BSP provides a framework within which members can improve and excel academically, contribute to the success and well-being of their peers, and become engaged in their scientific community.”

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