Program Gets Freshmen Started on Grad School Path

Dean's Scholars Enriches Educational Experience for BBS Undergrads

Feb. 17, 2011

The School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) has launched the Dean’s Scholars Program as a vehicle for challenging ambitious undergraduates with a strong interest in attending graduate school.

A pilot version of the program was created last spring, spearheaded by Dr. Duane Buhrmester, the school’s associate dean who was killed in a climbing accident over the summer. Ashbel Smith Professor Dr. Susan Jerger now leads the effort, and she wants to expand awareness of the opportunities it offers for freshmen already determined to earn a PhD, or a medical, dental or law school degree.

Dean’s Scholars can transition into the school’s Honors Program in their junior year and conduct research side-by-side with faculty members, attend the Honors Seminar and write a thesis to graduate with BBS honors.

“We developed the new program as a way to provide an enriching educational experience in a mentoring environment for academically gifted and highly motivated students,” Jerger said.

Applications are sent to all freshmen each fall, and a committee of faculty members selects students who could benefit the most from the program. Jerger expects to enroll between 10 to 20 students as Dean’s Scholars each year. About the same number now participate in the Honors Program.

To be eligible, students must have declared a major in at least one BBS bachelor’s program, and must have completed or be completing at least one full-time semester of study in-residence at a college or university (not necessarily UT Dallas). Recommendations by faculty members also will play a major role. The program is not appropriate for students with fewer than 31 hours to complete prior to graduation.

The Dean’s Scholars and Honors Program are intended to help the most promising students position themselves to “reach their highest goals and become self-motivated learners,” Jerger said. By expanding their knowledge and experience, students will have a greater chance of entering top-rated graduate schools and will equip themselves to achieve greater success in their research or professional careers.

The young scholars also benefit from collaborating with a group of other top students. The school conveniently offers a broad array of experiences to freshmen and sophomores so they have every chance to figure out their area of greatest long-term interest. The program also brings in community leaders to expose the students to real-life issues.

Nistha Jajal joined the Dean’s Scholars last spring and has enjoyed hearing the different perspectives offered by professionals.

“What compelled me to take part in the Dean’s Scholars class was the opportunity to surround myself with mentors, whether those mentors were classmates or faculty,” she said. “Having a sounding board off of which we can bounce our ideas is extremely important in academics. The Dean’s Scholars program and class have provided and continue to provide that kind of atmosphere.” 

Dr. Bert Moore, dean of BBS, said the program is one of several in the school designed to enrich the experiences of undergraduate students.

“The Scholars Program is a wonderful opportunity for students to get to know faculty in the school as well as have a variety of experiences which will help prepare them for post-baccalaureate work,” Moore said. “We are proud that Dr. Jerger, one of the school’s most distinguished researchers, has taken leadership of this program.”


Media Contact: Emily Martinez, UT Dallas, (214) 905-3049, emily.martinez@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Dr. Susan Jerger wants to expand awareness of the honors program and opportunities it offers for freshmen already determined to earn a PhD, or a medical, dental or law school degree.

Dr. Susan Jerger

 

Dr. Bert Moore“The Scholars Program is a wonderful opportunity for students to get to know faculty in the school as well as have a variety of experiences which will help prepare them for post-baccalaureate work,” Dean Bert Moore said.

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