EHOP offers insider’s look at graduate programs and mentorship opportunities at Johns Hopkins
After spending a weekend visiting Johns Hopkins earlier this month as part of the Explore Hopkins (EHOP) program, Eliel Akinbami was enthusiastic.
“It was a very wonderful experience,” said the chemical engineering major from Howard University. “I got to meet with students like myself who are passionate about research and— more importantly—I got to meet with faculty who are ready to prepare the next generation of scientists … [Of all the universities that] I have been able to visit, JHU has the most hospitable and relatable staff.”
Such feedback is gratifying to program’s creator, Darlene Saporu, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at Johns Hopkins University.
“It’s a great feeling to know that the students we host on those October weekends find it useful and interesting, and that they perceive Johns Hopkins as a welcoming and inclusive place,” she said.
Saporu started the program in 2016 as a way to provide talented students from under-represented minority groups with an up-close-and-personal look at Johns Hopkins’ graduate programs. To date, 104 students have visited JHU as part of the program.
“The aims of the program are two-fold. One: I wanted to better position Johns Hopkins to identify and recruit talent among students from underrepresented minority groups. Two: I wanted to provide URM students with opportunities to preview our graduate programs, learn about our research opportunities, network with our faculty, and get a feel for the climate and community here at Hopkins,” she explains.
This year’s program brought 36 students from universities ranging from MIT, University of Maryland College Park, and Howard University to Columbia and Morgan State to campus from October 4 through 6 for a weekend filled with workshops, networking opportunities, social events and more. Johns Hopkins pays for participants’ lodging and meals, which this year included dinner at Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Highlights of EHOP 2018 included a workshop aimed at demystifying graduate admissions; a graduate student panel; breakout sessions discussing pathways to the professoriate in engineering, humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences; and tours of the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics and the Gilman Hall Archaeological Museum.
On Friday morning, participants also enjoyed a welcome from Beverly Wendland, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and a keynote address given by Jeremy Brown, the John C. Malone Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering, whose research focuses on medical robotics.
Muyinatu Bell, an assistant professor in the departments of of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, was part of the “Pathways to the Professoriate” panel, during which she shared her story about becoming a Hopkins faculty member. This was Bell’s third year participating in EHOP, the mission of which she strongly supports.
“I believe it is important to encourage underrepresented minorities who have the skill and aptitude to pursue advanced degrees, particularly in a world where they may not be getting such encouragement elsewhere,” Bell said.
Bell said that events such as EHOP are needed to deliver a crucial message to talented and ambitious URM students.
“The message is that although you may be underrepresented in STEM, do not believe for a minute that you don’t belong in these fields or that this field is not for you simply because you may not see others who look like you on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
Though EHOP is still a young program, results look encouraging, according to Saporu.
“Following the first year of the program, 40 percent of the students who attended as seniors applied for admissions to Johns Hopkins. We are still analyzing results from the second cohort, but we feel encouraged that students who attend can picture themselves at Hopkins and that they enjoyed their time here,” she said.
One such student is Christin Salley, who studies fire protection engineering at the University of Maryland College Park. Salley took part in this year’s program and found it to be useful, interesting, and fun.
“Thank you so much for the detailed information provided, and for the time and effort that you put into making Explore Hopkins the incredible event that it was!” Salley said in an email following the event. “I genuinely enjoyed myself and the programs, faculty, and environment found at Johns Hopkins University. Thank you again for a great weekend.”