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2021 Summer Success Institute (SSI) – Making the Most of Now: Opportunities, Setbacks & Navigating Uncertainty

Welcome to the PROMISE Summer Success Institute (SSI) 2021! This conference, hosted by PROMISE program volunteers from across the University System of Maryland, will be held virtually from 1:00 – 4:00 pm EST on Thursday, August 19, 2021, and Friday, August 20, 2021. A SSI Preview Day will be held on Wednesday, August 18th, also in the afternoon. This will be a session for incoming underrepresented graduate students to help build community within your institution, your discipline and help you prepare to make the most of SSI. More information to come!

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What is SSI?

SSI began as part of an NSF grant-funded program back in 2003 to diversify the professoriate. SSI provides professional development, encouragement, motivation, career advice, peer support, and camaraderie, particularly for underrepresented graduate students (incoming and continuing) and postdocs in STEM fields. However, many sessions are helpful for broader audiences as well, including undergraduates and faculty across all disciplines. Interested students and scholars from any group or discipline are warmly invited to attend!

While typically this event has hosted hundreds from within the University System of Maryland, this year’s virtual event is open to scholars from all over the country.

The theme for the 2021 PROMISE SSI is Making the Most of Now: Opportunities, Setbacks & Navigating Uncertainty. This year’s program will have inspirational keynotes, concurrent sessions featuring panels of doctorates now working as faculty, as federal agency employees, in industry, or as change-makers work in science writing, science policy, and public health. There will also be a workshop on building and polishing your online brand and web presence – an increasingly important skill for all STEM scholars at all stages of their careers. Importantly, this year we are offering networking breakouts following every panel, giving you the opportunity to personally connect with our all-star speakers in small groups. We aim to help you CONNECT, to better understand the kind of work you can do with your graduate degree, and how to leverage the unique opportunities this past year has created for us personally and professionally.  We hope you join us!


As with all PROMISE activities, we invoke “the Jessica Effect,” which strives to include families and friends of graduate students in our events to honor the cultural and familial influence on the scholar and simultaneously promote understanding of the academic experience to those in the lives of students. Family and friends are welcome to join us!

Agenda at a Glance

All times are Eastern Standard Time

Wednesday, August 18th (PREVIEW DAY) – 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Underrepresented Minorities (URMs) Graduate Student Welcome, Community Building and Networking 101 Session (1:00 – 3:00 pm)

Thursday, August 19th – 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

1:00 pm – 1:10 pm Welcome Address
1:10 pm – 1:30 pm Keynote Address
1:30 pm – 2:20 pm Concurrent Session 1A: Federal Agency Career Panel
Concurrent Session 1B: Industry Career Panel
2:20 pm – 2:45 pm Networking Breakouts
2:45 pm – 3:35 pm Concurrent Session 2A: Postdoc 101 – Types? Should I do it? How do I get one?
Concurrent Session 2B: Faculty Careers are Great Careers
3:35 pm – 4:00 pm Networking Breakouts

Friday, August 20 – 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

1:00 pm – 1:10 pm Welcome
1:10 pm – 1:30 pm Keynote Address
1:30 pm – 2:20 pm Concurrent Session 3A: Science Impact Careers Panel (Writing, Policy, Outreach)
Concurrent Session 3B: Engineering Careers Panel
2:20 pm – 2:45 pm Q&A Session with Panelists
2:45 pm – 3:35 pm Building & Polishing Your Online Brand & Web Presence
3:35 pm – 4:00 pm Circle of Doctorates & Closing



* The agenda is subject to change until the day of the event.

SSI is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), Division of Human Resource Development (HRD). NSF AGEP HRD Awards: University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) (1820984), University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) (1820975), University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMB) (1820983), and Salisbury University (SU) (1820971), and Towson University (TU) (1820974), and the Division of Engineering Education and Centers NSF EEC Awards: University of California, Davis (2051599), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) (1734741).