Richards Center to host Emerging Scholars Summer Mentor Program

June 21, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State will hold its third Summer Mentoring Program for doctoral study in history June 24-29. This annual event encourages students from underrepresented groups to explore a career as an academic scholar. 

Eleven students from across the country will come to University Park for a weeklong exploration of how to apply to graduate school and what it would be like to study at Penn State. The students represent a variety of undergraduate institutions from large state universities to small private colleges and historically black colleges. The program is sponsored by the Richards Center, the Department of History, and the Department of African American Studies in a collaborative effort to attract and enroll students from underrepresented populations.

Crystal Sanders, associate professor of history and African American studies, serves as the lead faculty member organizing the event. Travel, accommodations, meals, and study materials are provided through the generosity of history alumni Frank and Jacqueline Tusa.

Throughout the week, the students will learn about Penn State’s innovative dual degree programs in history and African American studies and history and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and will take part in a simulated doctoral seminar.

Sanders said that the program intends “to increase diversity in history graduate education with the ultimate goal of diversifying the faculty ranks of colleges and universities throughout the country. We are doing something special here at Penn State, and we are confident that our work will bear fruit.”

The program has already brought success. Richard Daily, a graduate assistant for this year's program, participated in the mentor program in 2016 and has just finished his first year in the dual degree program in history and African American studies. Daily received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Redlands’ Johnston Center for Integrative Studies in 2011. His research interests center on the development of the prison system and public health policy in the 19th and 20th century United States. At Penn State, he has been active in promoting the Emerging Scholars Summer Mentoring Program.

“Being a first-generation college student, no one in my family or extended family had applied for or attended a doctoral program,” said Daily. “The Emerging Scholars Program at Penn State served as not only a location to connect with other young scholars interested in innovative, integrative doctoral study, but also passionate about the transformative power of education. The fact that the program is designed to get students prepared to apply for graduate school, not simply at Penn State, but anywhere, was fascinating.”

Daily is grateful for the strong support system of faculty, colleagues and staff members who sought to make sure that he did the best he could do and supported him through it.

“Penn State has been a wonderful home the past 10 months,” said Daily. “I did very well in my coursework and feel that I have learned more than I could have imagined. Without the Richards Center Emerging Scholars program, I have serious doubts that any of these things would have happened.”

The program had its second success with the admission of Alexandria Herrera as part of the incoming graduate class this fall in Latin American history. She was an undergraduate when she attended the program last year.

Another person from the first program has gone on to graduate work. Although she did not end up at Penn State, Chelsea McNutt was accepted into the graduate program at Cornell University this fall. The Richards Center considers every person from an underrepresented group in the academy who finds his or her way to a strong graduate program, whether at Penn State or elsewhere, to be a win.

To learn more about the summer mentor program, visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 21, 2018