Penn State’s Program to Increase Black Doctoral Students in STEM Meets With Success

The Millennium Scholars program at Pennsylvania State University supports a diverse group of undergraduate students striving to succeed in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Millennium Scholars receive financial, academic, and advising support, and are expected to work hard and study in a collaborative environment, conduct research, and maintain an excellent academic record, with the ultimate goal of obtaining a doctoral degree in a STEM field.

The program begins with a six-week summer bridge program before the students’ first year. Students live together on campus in a dedicated residence hall space which facilitates opportunities for peer mentoring and tutoring and learning through formal and informal study groups. During the summer months, Millennium Scholars participate in research internships at educational institutions and corporations.

The program, which began seven years ago, has had a good deal of success in meeting its goals. About half of all Millennium Scholars at Penn State have gone on to be accepted in doctoral degree programs in STEM fields. The first two are expected to receive their Ph.D.s this coming spring.

Penn State receives about 600 applications a year for the program. About 35 to 40 students are selected as Millennium Scholars each year, after a two-day intensive interview process on campus for finalists.

The Millennium Scholars program is under the direction of Amy Freeman. She joined the program in 2018 after serving as associate provost, chief diversity officer. and research assistant professor of engineering at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

Dr. Freeman received a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Washington State University. She holds a master’s degree in architectural engineering and a doctorate in workforce education and development from Penn State.

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