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A new cohort of Bridge Program students participates in a meet-and-greet virtual event with staff members in the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives. A new cohort of Bridge Program students participates in a meet-and-greet virtual event with staff members in the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives.

July 14, 2020

Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives adapts programs in response to Purdue’s COVID-19 guidelines   

The Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives at Purdue University’s Graduate School has arranged for two contemporary programs, the Big 10 Graduate Education Discovery Program (GEDP) and the virtual Bridge Program (vBridge) to replace the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) and Bridge Program, respectively, this summer, due to Purdue’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic. Both programs are designed to support underrepresented minority students’ early success in higher education.


The annual SROP is an immersive research experience providing underrepresented minority undergraduate students in any field of study the opportunity to conduct graduate research alongside faculty members and graduate students at Big 10 universities. Typically, the program runs through June and July, allowing SROP students to enhance their research skills and get a preview of what research in a graduate program is like.


“While the close contact with researchers at Purdue is a big benefit of the SROP program for participants, COVID-19 forced us to pivot to a remote format this year,” said Julius Eason, senior manager of the Office of Graduate Diversity Initiatives (OGDI) at the Graduate School. “But, we were undeterred in our commitment to serving these students, and what we are offering this year is exceptional content to the participants while safeguarding their health and safety.” 


This year Purdue is offering the Big 10 Graduate Education Discovery Program (GEDP) in place of SROP. The GEDP is a united Big 10 University effort that includes a series of professional development webinars designed specifically for the 2020 SROP applicants and developed by representatives in universities across the Big 10. The GEDP experience includes a series of professional development programs covering topics related to graduate school exploration and the application process. Eason presented the topic, “Masters versus PhD: What’s the difference?”


“The silver lining of all this is that the remote format enables SROP participants access to content from across the Big 10,” said Eason, adding that the team effort was a “great experience” for him. “I have been able to collaborate with 13 Big 10 universities. We were able to share ideas to develop the discovery program that would help students prepare an application for graduate school.”


In addition to GEDP, the virtual Bridge Program (vBridge) will also provide resources to incoming Purdue graduate students. Traditionally, the Bridge Program is an eight-week program that helps students transition to graduate school. Because of the changes implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic this summer, the OGDI will host a four-week virtual program starting July 20. This virtual adaption will replace the usual interactive Bridge Program.


The vBridge Program will allow students to access a series of workshops to develop their academic and research skills. Other components of the vBridge experience include academic research, career development, professional writing and presentation, and a social component to help prepare graduate students for the upcoming academic year. Students will work with their faculty mentor(s) to discuss their research interests and become familiar with their departments. They will also write a literature review to highlight the importance of their research question.


“The virtual Bridge Program has given our office the opportunity to restructure the goals and objectives for our incoming graduate students. Our intentions are to facilitate early success in their academic program by providing the resources that are needed to succeed in graduate school and their careers,” said Eason.

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