Georgetown summer programs seek to increase access through application assistance, mentorship for prospective undergraduate and graduate students

This summer, Georgetown University hosted several in-person programs aimed at diversifying academic pipelines to college and graduate school. Led by Georgetown students and faculty, these programs offered opportunities for students from underrepresented backgrounds and under-resourced communities to explore their academic interests and get assistance with their applications to postsecondary institutions. 

The Summer College Immersion Program (SCIP), a three-week college prep program for students who would be the first in their families to attend college, helped talented high school seniors from low-income families apply to highly selective institutions, while Student Helping Aspiring Physicians Excel (SHAPE) and Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute (PS-PSI) mentored undergraduates students considering graduate degrees in medicine and political science, respectively.

Summer College Immersion Program

A cohort of 42 high school students from all over the country were selected from the Cristo Rey Network and KIPP Foundation school systems to participate in this year’s SCIP, convening in-person on Georgetown’s main campus this June for the first time in three years. 

While living on campus, students built relationships with peers and faculty mentors; attended workshops on the fundamentals of college writing; and participated in Georgetown Experience Seminars, in which students explore possible areas of academic interest including the liberal arts, international relations, business, and STEM-related fields. SCIP students also received SAT and ACT test prep and help creating an action plan for applying for college, financial aid, and scholarships.

Related: Georgetown programs introduce college to underserved students in grades 6-12 >

“This program has actually been one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done in my life,” says Mia Cox, a former SCIP student who participated in the program virtually due to COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. Now a sophomore at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College, Cox was finally able to visit the Hilltop as a mentor for the program this year. 

Reina Evans, a rising high school senior from Dallas, Texas, says SCIP not only prepared her for college but also provided a close-knit community of peers and mentors. “We have seen each other grow,” says Evans. “These people will help you become a better person.”

Student Helping Aspiring Physicians Excel

For the second year in a row, Georgetown hosted Student Helping Aspiring Physicians Excel, known also as SHAPE Summer Mentors, to diversify pathways to medical school and mitigate the costs associated with applying to medical school. The free program pairs rising second-year medical students at the School of Medicine with undergraduates from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine to workshop their medical school application materials.

Medical school applicants first submit standard primary applications, which are followed by secondary applications initiated by medical schools and consisting primarily of school-specific essays. Most mentees in the program apply to 20 to 30 medical schools, each with a secondary application that requires three essays.

Related: Study highlights lack of socioeconomic diversity at medical schools >

“The entire program is student created, designed, and run,” says Emma Piliponis (C’18, M’24), who is part of the SHAPE’s leadership team. “The program is really unique, and we are proud of it.”

Kahiau Cockett-Nagamine (M’26), a first-generation college student from Creighton University who starts the School of Medicine this fall, says SHAPE helped pave the way for that next step. “I don’t have any family in medicine,” Cockett-Nagamine said. “SHAPE helped me figure out the application process, and the mentoring was so important to get me where I am.”

Political Science Predoctoral Institute

In June, 19 college juniors and seniors from colleges and universities in Washington, D.C.; Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia traveled to Georgetown to attend the first ever Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute (PS-PSI), a week-long training program for undergraduates from historically underrepresented and underserved communities who are considering a PhD in political science or a similar field.

Through PS-PSI, students discussed their research interests with faculty and graduate students and workshopped application materials. The program covers students’ travel expenses and lodging at Georgetown and offers a $1,000 stipend.

“Faculty in Georgetown’s Department of Government developed the program as part of our efforts to diversify the department’s student and faculty community and rethink the types of questions the discipline asks and the methodologies it uses,” says Anthony Clark Arend (SFS’80), chair of the Department of Government. 

Leo Hojnowski, a junior from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who attended PS-PSI this summer said the institute was formative in establishing relationships with peers and Georgetown faculty. “What I found was a week without a single hour that wasn’t useful for me academically or professionally. Everyone in the program wanted us to succeed.”

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