The Engaged Scholar Award

At Penn State student engagement includes both curricular and co-curricular activities. Engagement experiences 1) contribute to intellectual, personal, and social development, 2) foster integration into university life, 3) add distinction and value to a Penn State undergraduate experience, and 4) contribute to the continued success of Penn State graduates as citizens and leaders in communities across the state, the nation, and the world.
Engaged scholars are students who, through a combination of curricular or co-curricular experiences, demonstrates meeting the three engaged learning goals: personal growth, professional readiness, and impact through civic/community engagement across the five domains. Not every student takes on the role of engaged scholar, but the Student Engagement Network provides guidelines for multiple pathways one can take to achieve this level. While some students may prefer impact or participation within the realm of their campus or institution, others may strive for impact in the community, directing their insights and experiences toward solving public challenges. The Engaged Scholar Award recognizes students who complete a variety of engagement experiences across multiple domains (see more below) of student life.
  • To identify and recognize students who demonstrate consistent and persistent dedication to engaged learning during their undergraduate experience.
  • To provide additional means of recognizing underrepresented students and/or constituencies at an earlier timeframe.
  • To demonstrate, particularly to students, that they can succeed in exceptional fashion and thrive early on; that it does not take a lifetime to make an impact in a community.
  • To build on existing efforts to develop a curricular and co-curricular map for each student to help them discover and engage in a range of opportunities for the development of the whole person at Penn State.
  • To develop more avenues for students to tap into Penn State’s vast alumni network for mentorships, internships, training, advising, and job/experiential searches.
Overview of criteria:
Open to all undergraduates
Student complete 7 experiences (big or small). These 5 ‘domains’ must have at least one experience to account for. Note that the “professional experiential” is a ‘big’ experience, typically lasting a semester or weeks. The others can be any range.

Domains of Engagement 

Curricular Examples 

Cocurricular Examples 

DEIB Study abroad, study away, embedded course, language proficiency, leadership course Attendance at cultural events or programs, diversity immersion experience, alternative spring break, travel, fellowship, internship, organizational experience
University -related Academic committees, faculty senate, campus lectures, communications media Student government, journalism, student clubs, Science Lion Pride
Community -based Service learning, tutoring, Collegiate 4-H, community-based  research, outreach, embedded coursework, travel Volunteerism, philanthropy, political involvement, outreach, broader impacts, research
Creative Expression  Performing arts field trips, elective courses in performing and visual arts; developing museum exhibits; engineering and architectural design Attendance at theatre, recital, etc.; participation in a performing arts club; directing a performance; spoken word, presentations, public pedagogy, poster or infographic
Professional experiential Internship, co-op, practicum, research, entrepreneurship, study abroad RA, TA, LA, peer mentor, orientation leader, related work experience, travel, internship, other
Student Process:
  1. Express interest (or be nominated by faculty or staff) in the award process by emailing Michael Zeman (
  2. Get assigned an Engagement Coach (the SEN will assign each candidate to a coach).
  3. Complete the required 7 experiences over the minimum time period of 4 semesters and maximum 7 semesters. (Note: only two previously completed experiences may count toward the 7 experiences prior to expressing interest, and must have occurred within 1 semester prior.)
  4. Submit completed experiences to your Engagement Coach when complete (Engagement coaches/SEN create and maintain a data base of completed work as either artifacts or reflections).
    1. Artifact examples: Photos, papers, publication, performance, poster.
    2. Written reflection: 500 words on how this experience addressed NACE competencies, the growth areas, and/or United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  5. Student post completed work (projects, events, or experiences) on EApp profile.
  6. Student submits final reflection paper (Engagement coach reviews with a rubric. Final reflection covers NACE/Growth Areas, SDGs, and other prompts on meaning/significance/growth).
  7. Engagement coach signs off (with other coaches and committee).
  8. Attend recognition award ceremony in April of final semester.
A medal and/or a digital emblem to put on LinkedIn profile page.
Only a limited number of scholars will be recognized each year.
Post graduation:
Stay connected to SEN as alumni.