Published: July 21, 2014

Aiming higher:
College of Social Science Launches scholars program

Contact(s): Lois Furry University Advancement office: (517) 884-1122

According to John Waller, an associate professor with an expertise in the history of medicine, making sense of the toughest problems facing society demands a firm grasp of the social sciences. Waller was recently hired by the College of Social Science to serve as the first director of a new undergraduate program called Social Science Scholars.

The new program, brought to life by Marietta Baba, dean of the College of Social Science, and the early help of alumni donors, is a concerted effort to attract and retain high-performing students whose experience will in turn transform the undergraduate experience in part by inspiring similar programs within the college’s academic units. In fact, three departments in the college have initiated scholars programs already.

The scholars will study the social sciences in great depth, work in close partnership with leading MSU faculty, consult with experts in the United States and overseas during study away and study abroad experiences, and they will apply their knowledge in internships across the country.

Barbara Gerson (’84, Social Science) and her husband, Mark, were among the first to support the new program with a generous financial contribution.

“Students in this program will be able to interface with faculty in a way that would traditionally be considered a post-baccalaureate degree approach,” Barbara Gerson said. “I love this idea because it equips students with something unique, making them most attractive to employers and graduate schools. They will be our future leaders.”

Sharing that belief with the Gersons are other alumni, including Dean Baba, who have agreed to financially support the new program as well. More support is needed over time to ensure its continued growth and improvement.

Jacob (Jake) Santangelo, a senior studying political science from Holland, Michigan, appreciates the focus on internships which he says helped prepare him for his future career.

“I know first-hand the importance of internships since I have worked four as a student, including one at the White House,” said Santangelo. “The work may present students with more challenges, but it will provide more opportunities for growth. In applying my knowledge from the College of Social Science as a student I am prepared to make a difference as a leader.”


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