Like people and programs everywhere, the UVA Clark Scholars Program (CSP) experienced great change during Spring 2020. Here we provide an update from our Spring 2020 Semester:
In March, program Manager Danielle Dyer moved on to a position as college advisor at an independent high school in New Orleans. We will miss Danielle and all of the great work she has done for the program, but wish her well in her new role.
After a series of interviews with Prof. Harris, our colleagues at UVA and some of our Scholars, Jessica Harris was hired as the new program manager and started on June 1, 2020. Jessica’s academic background is in Physics (BS – Grambling State University and MA – Fisk University) and her previous position was as the STEAM Education Program Development Office with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville, VA. We are excited to have Jessica onboard and look forward to leveraging her experiences within the Clark Scholars Program, even if we are starting out virtually. The program also welcomed Karen Sleezer as a part-time addition to our staff, helping with logistics and administration.
This transition also required some revisions to various parts of the program, including our regular leadership seminars. While in-person engagement became a barrier, CSP leadership was successfully able to have our typical one-on-one meetings with each of the Scholars from Cohorts 1 and 2, albeit in a virtual format using Zoom. The meetings were used to check in with our Scholars and determine any critical needs and learn how the virtual college environment was working for them. Additionally, the meetings provided Scholars with the opportunity to reflect on the program structure and provide valuable feedback.
In spite of the COVID-19 impacts, Cohorts 1 and 2 also continued to engage in the online versions of our leadership seminars and in fact generated ideas to help with adjusting to the new virtual environment. During the latter part of the Spring semester, CSP hosted 4 seminars for Cohorts 1 and 2 including:
Online Success (4/6) – Marc Carraway and Sallie Outten, Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School
Risk and Reward (4/8) - Andrus Ashoo, Director, Office of Citizen Scholar Development & Interim Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
How Mindfulness Can Help During Covid-19 (4/13) – Liz Ramirez-Weaver, LCSW - Embedded Therapist at the School of Engineering
COVID-19 Forum (4/15) - B. Cameron Webb, MD, JD - Co-Director, UVA Department of Public Health Science’s Health Policy Program
In April, recruiting efforts for CSP transitioned fully online with planned events for Days on the Lawn cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our efforts included the delivery of two webinars for prospective scholars and parents. Some of our Scholars from Cohorts 1 and 2 joined the webinars and were able to provide answers in real-time to prospective Scholars. Students invited for consideration by CSP submitted a response to a questionnaire, which was used to aid in the selection of Cohort 3. From the pool of candidates, 15 students were selected and invited to join CSP. Out of the 15 invitees, 14 accepted the invitation to join the program with a planned start date of June 28, 2020 (classes beginning on June 29th). More details on Cohort 3 to come in the Summer 2020 update.
While COVID-19 has created a number of challenges for UVA and the Clark Scholars Program, our Scholars have proven quite resilient and adaptive in their summer activities which range from additional summer courses, to in-person internships, and virtual internships. In the fall, we are hoping to be together again face-to-face with our three cohorts of Scholars. More details on the summer activities of Cohorts 1 and 2 to come in the Summer 2020 update.