Leadership Alliance sending students to famous universities


Ashley Cortes (left) and Kanoe Perreira (right) in front of Purdue University.

The Leadership Alliance is offering a summer research program for undergraduate students across various studies. The paid program trains and mentors students to pursue competitive applications to graduate schools. Chaminade students have participated in this program for years, and it has opened many doors for them.

“The leadership alliance program is designed to get students that are in a wide variety of disciplines into summer research; communications, biology, chemistry, harder sciences, social sciences in humanities,” said Dr. Janet Davidson, a Chaminade Criminal Justice professor and the summer research coordinator for social sciences and humanities for the Chaminade branch of the Leadership Alliance.

“The intent of the summer research program is two-fold. It’s for professional development to help students grow into more logical thinkers, and be better grounded in research methods so that they can be introduced through the whole process of gaining stronger skills to be more competitive in graduate school.”

Students perform research in humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and other topics at various universities for eight to 10 weeks. Some of the leading institutions that are members of the Leadership Alliance include Brown, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and many other prestigious establishments of education. More than 30 institutions of higher learning are included in the Alliance.

Throughout the program participants gain theoretical knowledge and practical training in academic research and scientific experimentation according to the Leadership Alliance. The information researched throughout their stay is condensed to a ten minute oral or poster presentation at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium.The National Symposium is a student conference, with panels of four to five students presenting their research findings amongst about 20 people. Attendants receive a stipend as well as travel and housing expenses from the research institution in addition to all of the experience gained. Stipend amounts vary depending on the institutions, about $3,500 to $4,000 in total. Professional development and food costs vary throughout the universities as well.

“The Leadership Alliance has allowed me to gain research experience that would otherwise be unavailable to undergraduate students,” said Brian Walsh, a senior majoring in Criminal Justice at Chaminade University and attendee of the Leadership Alliance.

“My first summer in Harvard’s Department of Sociology dealt with measuring the efficacy of post-secondary educational programs in state prisons operating across the country but with specific focus to those established in the prison at San Quentin, California.  Going into the project, I hypothesized that exposure to higher levels of education would mean lower rates of repeat offending, or recidivism, among inmates after their release.  The data I found supported this hypothesis.”

Applications for the program started Nov. 1and end Feb.1 Students apply through an online application through the website. They must have two letters of recommendation, a personal statement and choose their top three choices of the research institutions they would like to go to. Based on the chosen schools, the administrators of the program at Brown University send those applications out to relevant schools.

“There is a lot of independence involved, and I really like that. The people I have met are great.  They have come from all across the country to study topics in various fields, and I love learning about their interests. We all share a passion for research,” said Walsh in an email. “During my time in the Leadership Alliance, I learned how to write academic journal articles and use statistical analysis software, namely Stata, to interpret data.  No matter what I decide to do after graduation, I feel prepared to tackle any task from an objective standpoint.”

Eligibility requirements are necessary in order for a student to be chosen to be a part of the program. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or better and know for certain that they are going to further their graduate studies by pursuing a PhD or MD-PhD.

“The Leadership Alliance up to date has had over 200 students, mostly minorities, that have gone through the program that now have PhD’s. However, you don’t have to be a student at any of those institutions to apply. So anybody all over the country could apply for admission into the summer program.

Students are also required to have completed at least two semesters and have a remaining semester in their undergraduate education, in addition to U.S. citizenship. Sophomores and juniors are applicants.

“It’s also designed to encourage or help students discover whether or not graduate school is in the future for them. The Leadership Alliance is specifically really interested in diversifying higher education; so they are interested in making sure that higher education is not only for white males, which traditionally has been the standard for PhDs. They are interested in more women and more minorities.”

The Chaminade branch has a goal of sending off around nine students in social sciences from the university out to other institutions to gain experiences and skills. Within the past two to three years there has been eight students within the social sciences sent away. Students who are interested and meet the criteria are welcomed to apply for the program as well as attend workshops at Chaminade with the help of Brown University.