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Grant to expand EEB's Preview Weekend

Driving an exuberant effort to make prospective diverse Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) students feel seen, supported, and included, EEB’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee (DEI) have won a Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant (CIEG) with members of MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station (KBS).

With 15,000 from MSU’s Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and additional funding from the MSU graduate school and the colleges of Natural Science and Agriculture and Natural Resources, the group will put on an Envision EEB Graduate Preview Weekend for students from historically excluded groups (HEGs) who seek admission to graduate school.

The weekend will be for both professional development, as well as to guide prospective students through as much of the hidden curriculum of applying to graduate school as possible.

Toby SantaMaria portrait

“Students from historically excluded groups can find the graduate school application process mystifying,” said Toby SantaMaria, a plant biology PhD student and co-chair of EEB’s DEI committee, who led the CIEG submission. “Many lack insider knowledge of how to search for programs, contact potential advisors, or craft competitive applications. The EEB Preview Weekend is a chance for students to learn about graduate school and develop professionally into the scholars they want to be."

The event, planned to be in-person, will be modeled after the inaugural Envision Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Preview Weekend which was held virtually for 43 registrants from across the country and the world last fall.

Sarah Fitzpatrick

“Participants were really engaged and very grateful for the programming,” said Sarah Fitzpatrick, the other co-chair of EEB’s DEI committee and an integrative biology assistant professor at KBS. “Our MSU alumni panel included a real range of grads from EEB, from those in their first job after graduation to folks who graduated 20 years ago. Participants got a kick out of the dynamic between alums. It’s that network that opens doors throughout your career and it’s so important to open doors for as wide a set as possible.”

The EEB DEI committee notes KBS, a year-round research and education facility 60 miles southwest of East Lansing, provides a critical nexus where university-affiliated research and informal learning can occur.

In addition to SantaMaria and Fitzpatrick, the CIEG proposal was co-written by Daniel Turner, Ava Garrison, Christopher Catano, Henry Chung, Kyle Jaynes, Isabela Borges, Nameer Baker, and Elizabeth Schultheis. EEB Director Elise Zipkin and KBS Director Fred Janzen were endorsing administrators.

The CIEG Program provides funding to colleges, as well as other academic and administrative units, individuals, and groups, to engage in efforts that will enhance the overall learning, living and working environment for students, faculty and staff at MSU.