Spotlight on VPUL Equity and Access

Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

Earlier this month, Penn alumni across three decades returned to campus on a Saturday afternoon to meet Philadelphia high school students enrolled in the Summer Mentorship Program (SMP) PLUS, which is housed in the Equity & Access division of Penn’s Vice Provost for University Life (VPUL). The SMP/SMP PLUS staff team is, quite deservedly, one of Penn’s 2013 Models of Excellence honorees. Please join me in congratulating them for this honor!

Over the summer during SMP, students connect with Penn’s schools of Dental Medicine, Engineering & Applied Science, Law, Nursing, and Medicine, where they gain wonderful experience and insight into the careers they intend to pursue. Then, during the academic year, the SMP PLUS program offers additional, continuous support to those students, such as mentoring,  tutoring, and events like the Penn alumni career panel.

After enjoying some time with this year’s lively and intellectually curious group of SMP PLUS students, I had the privilege of moderating a discussion with panelists Sharon Sutherland, C’97 (Medicine), Angela Nguyen, NU’12 (Nursing), Rudolph Broomes, ENG’04, GEN’08 (Engineering), and Abel Rodriguez, L’11 (Law). These alumni were so generous with their time and experience, addressing both the joys and the challenges of their respective fields, offering valuable advice to everyone present, and staying afterward to answer additional questions about life, school, and career. I want to take this opportunity to thank them again.

Sharon Sutherland, C’97 (Far left - Medicine)

Sharon Sutherland, C’97 (Far left – Medicine)

Angela Nguyen, NU’12 (Far right - Nursing)

Angela Nguyen, NU’12 (Far right – Nursing)


Rudolph Broomes, ENG’04, GEN’08 (Far right – Engineering)


Abel Rodriguez, L’11 (Center – Law)

Before the panel, one of the students at my table – a future cardiac surgeon – told me of her grandfather’s experience after his heart attack. He survived, thanks to his surgery, and the seed was planted for her desired career. Another student shared that his choice to pursue law came after a close relative of his was falsely accused of a crime. That relative was ultimately exonerated, but spent an undue amount of time in jail before then. This student wants to help prevent that from happening to others. Those are just two of the 25 or so SMP PLUS participants who have shown a drive to achieve, along with a willingness to dedicate their Saturdays from October to April to their own education and development. We should all be proud of them, and of what Penn is doing to support them.

I would be remiss to leave this out – if you would like to offer your financial support to the SMP PLUS Program and their important efforts, make out your check in any amount to “The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania” and in the memo area be sure to write “VPUL SMP PLUS.” Send to the attention of Iris Leon, Manager of Development Operations, Vice Provost for University Life, 3611 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Questions? Contact Iris via e-mail or call her at (215) 898-6081.


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Filed under Multicultural Outreach, Nicole M., Uncategorized

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