Penn Engineering Celebrates Annual Meyerhoff Day

June 21, 2023

UNIVERSITY CITY, Philadelphia—The University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Meyerhoff Scholars Program has been at the forefront of efforts to increase diversity among future leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by supporting students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. or combined M.D./Ph.D. in STEM. 

The program aligns with the University of Pennsylvania’s goal to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. The UMBC Meyerhoff family is now more than 1,600 strong with over 1,400 alumni across the nation, which includes over 300 students enrolled in graduate and professional programs, many of whom are enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania. This year, 41 students from UMBC participated in the annual Meyerhoff Day. 

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The 2022 Meyerhoff Day, hosted by Penn Engineering, kicked off with a welcome reception from Dean Vijay Kumar to salute the scholars. Senior Associate Dean David Meaney spoke to attendees about engineering research initiatives and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs Boon Thau Loo provided a Ph.D. program overview. Graduate Group Chairs were also in attendance to provide an overview of the many graduate programs Penn has to offer

Faculty members had the opportunity to discuss the primary qualifications they look for in applicants and visiting students were given a chance to ask questions about attending graduate school at Penn

“I think it’s important for students to see an underrepresented student in this space, an existence of proof that it’s possible — because there aren’t many of us,” said Joey Velez-Ginorio, a Ph.D. candidate in Computer and Information Science, who spoke with students about his experience at Penn Engineering. “My hope is that witnessing the proof will motivate them to keep pursuing their interests in spite of the many obstacles they will face.” 

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Electrical and Systems Engineering Ph.D. Candidate Kendall Queen facilitated a school tour and also gave attendees a tour of Penn’s G.R.A.S.P (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) Lab. Students also had the opportunity to view the LRSM (Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter) and the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, facilitated by Troy Olsson, Ph.D., and the Bio-MakerSpace, led by Sevile Mannickarottu. 

“Through this program, I was able to make connections with a lot of faculty and meet the person who eventually became my advisor when I started at Penn,” Meyerhoff Scholar Kendall Queen said. “So, volunteering to meet prospective students is important to me because I am very much a product of this partnership and its inception. The students were asking amazing questions. I gave a demonstration on my work, which involves self-driving vehicles, so it was great to give them a taste of what it would be like to attend Penn and work in the G.R.A.S.P. space.”

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“It’s very important for people to see themselves in the positions that they dream to be in,” Queen added. “It gives them the perspective that there is someone who looks like them who is doing exactly what they want to do so they know it’s definitely possible. It unlocks the potential within them knowing they can do it because they’ve seen someone who looks like them in that career path.”

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Following a full day of learning and discussion, attendees could unwind and connect over dinner and enjoy a bowling social at Lucky Strikes Philadelphia.

The University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science collaborates with the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program to increase diversity in our graduate programs and reach beyond our targets for inclusivity and impact on our community. Learn more about how you can participate in the Meyerhoff Scholarship Program here and more about Penn’s commitment to inclusion here