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Making History by Shaping the Future

By Brian W. Simpson

Every new class of students arrives at the Bloomberg School intending to make a difference in global health, but one group of students who arrive next July will also be making history. 

They will be the first Sommer Scholars. 

Supported by an anonymous $22 million gift and named by the donor in honor of Dean Alfred Sommer, the Hopkins Sommer Scholars program will support up to 15 new master of public health students and up to 15 new doctoral students each year, beginning with the 2005–2006 academic year. The prestigious new program aims to educate future leaders who will devise new, effective interventions to improve global health. The scholarship’s prominence may attract talented individuals who had never considered attending a school of public health, according to faculty.

“This is a major scholarship. This really creates an elite scholars program,” says Ron Brookmeyer, PhD, chair of the MPH program. “Its focus will be on leaders. We are looking for students who will one day have a significant impact on global health.” 

The master’s students chosen to be Scholars will receive full tuition and living stipends. The doctoral students will receive living stipends for five years plus two years of paid tuition; training grants and other sources are expected to pay for the remainder of their time at the School. (If other grants pay a doctoral student’s tuition or stipend, the scholarship funds will be used to support additional Scholars.) 

“When I review [student] applications, all of a sudden you come across someone who is already a star, who has so much dedication and leadership potential that it’s clear this student is outstanding—those are the people we will put forth for Sommer Scholarship consideration,” says James Yager, PhD, senior associate dean of Academic Affairs. 

Each School program will nominate their most outstanding applicants; a Schoolwide faculty committee will then select the Scholars. 

In addition to meeting the School’s normal rigorous academic demands, Sommer Scholars will participate in special enrichment activities, which will include a series of seminars, visits to Capitol Hill, and internship opportunities in government and private industry. And the School’s link with the Scholars will not end at graduation. A network of Sommer Scholars will be established so that they can maintain contact with each other and the School. 

The first cohort of Sommer Scholars will be named next spring.