When University of Maryland, Baltimore County, senior Aliyah Smith was applying to graduate schools in 2018, she got wind of SERGE, a new program working to increase the diversity of PhD students at Stanford School of Engineering.
Taking advantage of a rare opportunity to visit the West Coast, Smith found a nascent program operating on a shoestring and run entirely by students — and the educational experience she’d been searching for.
“When I went to other schools I was visiting, I didn’t really feel much of a sense of community; I didn’t know where my support system would be,” Smith said. “But when I came here, I saw all these dedicated students who really cared about bringing new students in and making sure they stay. Because recruiting is only the first part; you have to make sure there’s an environment that’s welcoming and supportive so the students can obtain a PhD in the long run.”
Today, Smith is back at Stanford, where she’s pursuing her PhD in aeronautics and astronautics and confident in her grad school decision.
Source: “The SERGE program reaches out to prospective students with the message, “You belong here”, Beth Jensen, Stanford Engineering Department