ADI Celebrates Success of P3 2021!

Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
by Nova Smith, Assistant Director of Diversity Initiatives, Princeton University Graduate School

Princeton University Shows its Continued Commitment to Diversifying the Academy.

Princeton, NJ— Wednesday, October 6th through Friday, October 8th marked Princeton University’s fourth annual Prospective Ph.D. Preview, better known as P3.  A signature initiative organized by The Graduate School’s Access, Diversity, and Inclusion (ADI) team, P3 is a conference for prospective students from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in learning more about graduate school at Princeton University.

P3 Scholars are selected through a competitive application process. This year, we expanded the selection criteria beyond rising juniors, seniors, and post grads to include rising sophomores interested in earning a Ph.D.  The 2021 P3 cohort hailed from over 50 institutions including minority-serving institutions (MSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and public and private institutions from around the country and Puerto Rico.  There were also many international participants from universities in Colombia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Kenya, Burundi, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil.

Once selected, P3 Scholars were warmly welcomed into the program with a surprise welcome box including Princeton swag, a signature P3 candle from Harlem Candle Company, a "Guide to Graduate School Book", and a Princeton cookie. As they unboxed their goodies, many P3 Scholars remarked how special they felt and how excited they were to receive their boxes. Scholar Sabrina Binte Ashraf was astounded to receive her welcome box despite being overseas during a pandemic. She remarked, “I thought it wasn’t possible because I’ve never received a gift from outside the country. But then [my father] said, ‘It’s from Princeton University!'." Upon its arrival, Ashraf “loved everything about the gift box,” particularly how it lifted her spirits about the graduate admissions process. 

The welcome boxes set the tone for P3’s inspiring three days of networking, departmental open houses, and workshops.  Panelists discussed topics such as networking, funding, professional development, research, life at Princeton, library resources, the application process, and CV/Resume writing.  The workshops were bookended by intimate conversations from both ends of the Ph.D. spectrum—professors and industry professionals kicked off the event with a discussion of their individual paths to a Ph.D. and current Princeton graduate students concluded the conference with a Q&A on graduate student life and why they chose Princeton.  Amidst the workshops and Ph.D. panels, P3 Scholars also had the opportunity to speak directly with faculty in their fields of interest during departmental Open Houses.  There, students were able to have robust, in-depth conversations with departmental faculty, staff, and graduate students about programmatic offerings and their own research interests.  Opening and closing these insightful proceedings was Associate Dean of Access, Diversity, and Inclusion, Renita L. Miller.  Dean Miller set the warm and inviting tone for the virtual gathering, bantering with students she had come to know well throughout the P3 application process. 

Afterward, Scholars raved about Princeton University, the P3 program, and its impact on their Ph.D. pursuit.  Scholar Zhakier Seville “feel[s] more confident than ever about pursuing a Ph.D. degree,” a sentiment shared by Angelina Coronado, who is “a lot more confident about my capabilities and potential as an early-career scholar and a prospective doctoral applicant". Other scholars noted how their positive experience with P3 influenced their likelihood to consider applying to Princeton.  Lillian Cervantes was “really impressed with the work Princeton is doing for students like me [and] look[s] forward to staying engaged with the University”.  Michael Thomas found “the community at Princeton to be the most alluring” part of P3, while Emilie Bowerman felt P3 “humanized [by] a big name institution", and Makaleh Smith “agree[s] with all the positive Princeton sentiment” shared among the scholars.  Smith continued, “every event from recruitment to P3 has been so warm and welcoming that it has pushed Princeton, a university I never thought I could or would want to attend, to the top of my application list".

The 2021 P3 Conference is just one of many incredible efforts by the ADI team to develop a pipeline of students from underrepresented backgrounds for graduate school. Because of ADI’s dedication, P3 Scholars from previous cohorts have gone on to successfully apply and matriculate at Princeton and other peer institutions.  Some of the P3 alumni now at Princeton have since participated in other ADI initiatives once enrolled, such as the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, the Graduate Scholars Program (GSP), and the Diversity Fellows Program.  P3 is just one facet of ADI’s broader mission to diversify the professoriate—a mission furthered by this year’s stellar P3 Conference. 

In the words of Scholar Angelica Santiago-Ortiz, “I hope those of us who are applying have a fantastic admissions cycle, manifesting acceptances for everyone, and thanks again to the ADI team and all the P3 [S]cholars!”