Hollings Prep Program trains undergraduates before they apply to NOAA scholarships

Noah smiles on a beach on an overcast day and holds up a large fish, which looks to be about 3 feet long.

Noah Jenkins, a 2020 EPP/MSI undergraduate scholar and former Hollings Prep Program scholar, holds a California halibut. California halibut are one of the fish species that Noah researched while interning with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in the summer of 2020 as an EPP/MSI scholar. (Image credit: Courtesy of Noah Jenkins)

In 2017, an analysis of the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Program found that at least half of the applications started by underrepresented minority students were never submitted. The report identified potential barriers and solutions to address the disparity. One suggestion was for the program managers to develop relationships with advisors who could recruit and guide underrepresented minority students through the application process. The Office of Education worked with NOAA Fisheries to create the Hollings Preparation Program (HPP), a program that fulfilled this need while also providing students with valuable experiences.

Each year since 2020, HPP has prepared 10-15 undergraduate freshmen, with a focus on underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, to become competitive applicants for the full Hollings Scholarship. During HPP, the students complete a research project, participate in professional development, and receive help applying to the Hollings Scholarship — all of which are essential for creating a strong application, but hard for most students to come by the time they apply for the Hollings Scholarship in their sophomore year. 

“The Hollings Prep Program gave me the tools necessary to apply for the Hollings and EPP/MSI scholarships. HPP offered great mentors that have guided me on the right track to become a successful individual, offered lots of professional experience, wrote letters of recommendation, and gave me great tips for applying,” says Noah Jenkins, a former HPP student and current EPP/MSI undergraduate scholar. 

Six students who participated in HPP have gone on to receive the Hollings or EPP/MSI undergraduate scholarships. However, all HPP students leave the program with valuable experiences. “It is really cool the things that [students] come out saying — how confident they are ... and now they have more assurance in what they want to pursue,” said Abbie Moyer, HPP co-manager.