In October 2015, Pennsylvania State University hosted the STEM Open House, a program which invites underrepresented junior and senior undergraduates with strong academic records and research proposals to visit the campus, explore the graduate and research opportunities there. Applicants submitted transcripts, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and research area interests. Finalists were brought to Penn State for the Open House weekend with all travel expenses covered.
“The weekend was a busy one, with individualized schedules jam-packed with presentations, meetings, and panel discussions. Even meal times were occupied by informative sessions. Visiting students were encouraged to ask questions at all times, including via anonymous notes.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Penn State and found the program extremely informative. The chilly weather was a welcoming break in this all-too-long summer we have had in Stockton. During the morning of the first day, I had the opportunity to meet privately with two professors of the Acoustics department and one professor from the Materials Research Institute, and received tours of both facilities. In the afternoon, I met with some of the Physics department faculty, along with other prospective Physics PhD students, and got to see a laser-cooling setup during our tour of the facilities. Before I left on Sunday, I was able to meet with the materials science professor again, Prof. Mike Lanagan, and two of his PhD students for lunch. There, I learned about the students’ perspective of life at Penn State and in the department of Materials Science.
Despite the long and busy days scheduled for the visiting students, we still had the opportunity to explore the area on our own and get to know each other. I attended the Penn State orchestra concert on Friday night, at which I was able to meet a few of the school’s French horn players. Being a horn player myself, they were excited that I would join them in performances, if I attend Penn State next year. On Saturday night, I ventured off campus with a few other visiting students to a bar recommended by Dr. Flohic, called Zeno’s Pub. There, we found some peace and quiet while every other bar was filled with mobs of people cheering on Penn State’s football team, the Nittany Lions, during their away game against Ohio State.
Overall, the trip was very satisfying. I met many great people (both faculty and visiting students), learned a lot about Penn State and graduate school, and enjoyed seeing the beautiful campus and facilities. In addition to being a good learning opportunity, it served as a nice break from the stresses of day-to-day life in my senior year, here at Pacific.“