Enrollment Management Names New Director of Strategic Operations 

Cynthia Jennings was selected for the role. She brings 20 years of experience to the position.

Cynthia Jennings headshot.
Cynthia Jennings joins the Enrollment Management team as the new director of strategic operations, effective immediately.

Georgia Tech has selected Cynthia Jennings as the new director of strategic operations for the division of Enrollment Management, effective immediately.  

In this role, Jennings will oversee the daily administrative operations of the Office of the Vice Provost of Enrollment Management. She will work closely with division leadership to drive core objectives and foster partnerships across the Institute. 

“It is an honor to join the Enrollment Management team and I look forward to facilitating success across the Institute,” said Jennings. “I am committed to advancing Georgia Tech’s strategic plan and making a positive impact in our division.”

Jennings will also lead division-wide onboarding and training efforts, conduct research on best practices, and develop key performance indicators to enhance satisfaction and outreach efforts. 

Jennings brings over 20 years of experience in higher education to this role. Previously, she spent over 10 years as assistant dean of students at Tech, following a seven-year tenure as director of New Student Orientation Programs and Class Year Programming at Columbia University. Her knowledge from these positions will play a crucial role in advancing Tech’s enrollment goals and institutional priorities. 

Why and How Do Students Get Involved in Undergraduate Research at Tech?

Considering graduate school or looking to build your resume with research experience? Current Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate Breanna Shi highlights the resources available at Tech and gives advice on getting involved in the research scene as an undergraduate student.

From cutting-edge robotics to building coastal resilience, researchers at Georgia Tech set their sights on answering today’s leading research questions. Undergraduate students can play key roles in this search for solutions through their involvement in research labs.

Research experience is often essential for students who plan to pursue graduate school. At Georgi Tech, over 5,000 undergraduate students work in labs across campus, getting experience at an R1 university that ranks #7 for undergraduate research in the United States.

On top of providing experience for a resume, undergraduate students in research at Tech are often mentored by graduate students to help them through research projects and acclimate to the lab. By working with graduate students, students can learn firsthand what a graduate student’s responsibilities are and determine if graduate school is a good fit for themselves.

Breanna Shi and two of her mentee undergraduate students pose with a sign for a sustainability conference.
Breanna Shi (left) stands with two students at a sign for a sustainability workshop. Image courtesy of Breanna Shi.

“As an undergraduate, doing research and having that relationship with a graduate student is a good way to understand what it’s like to be a graduate student,” said Breanna “Bree” Shi, a Ph.D. candidate McGrath lab at Tech. “You also get the insider information from them of ‘if I had to do this again, this is what I would do differently.’”

Shi’s mentees, who have gone on to medical school or other positions, similarly emphasize the importance of working with graduate students to better understand the experience of graduate school.

“Bree has pretty much taught me everything I’ve needed to know in terms of making a decision about where to go to grad school, how to approach professors, how to write a good application, how to find funding, and all the in-betweens,” said Michael Ortega, a computer science student interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science or machine learning. “Bree has given me a wonderful opportunity to encounter what research is like, which has helped me form decisions about post-grad life.”

Beyond mentorship, Shi urges students to use Tech’s resources. For example, students can often get course credit toward their degree for conducting research, participate in formal programs like Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) with working groups of faculty and students, or receive financial support while pursuing research through scholarship programs.

Tech has a bustling research scene, and knowing which direction to go can be difficult. However, Shi also emphasizes that Tech’s resources to support students in research are extensive.

To experience success in the quest for a research position, Shi’s top tips are:

Shi advises undergraduate students to avoid comparing themselves to others when they feel like someone is better at a certain skill. What can be more helpful is to form a relationship with them and understand how they advanced their skills in a particular area.

“Instead, become friends with them,” said Shi. “Having friends with diverse experiences will help you fill in your own gaps.”

Usually, students will have multiple parts or “slices” of themselves that they want to improve. Shi recommends you have multiple mentors to help you improve in all desired areas.

“You have multiple facets, and no one person can be responsible for all of them. Spread the slices out!” said Shi “So watch the people around you to see who is doing something well, then talk to them about their process.”

Shi with a cohort of research students. Image courtesy of Breanna Shi.

In the McGrath lab, Shi often receives emails from students wishing to work with the lab. Reaching out via email to a lab is a great way to connect, especially if a lab sounds like a good fit and the student wants to learn more.

Some labs on campus use PairMe, Georgia Tech’s platform to match students with lab openings, but email can still be useful for contacting labs not on PairMe, or for following up.

It’s important to recognize that every lab has their own focus area, workflow, and set of expectations. Shi emphasizes that every student needs different things from their lab experience. When searching for positions or during the interview process, it may be helpful to ask questions to fully understand what the lab structure is and what deliverables they expect.

It’s also normal to change labs to find a better fit. Shi has had mentees in the past switch to new labs as they develop their idea of what research they want to pursue.

Keep in mind that mentors want to see students excel and support them in doing so. Joining a lab and finding mentors is key to building a network of people willing to answer questions and highlight opportunities.

“The crux of good mentorship is accepting that your students will do greater things than you,” said Shi. “We don’t want to make copies of ourselves, good mentorship is giving students the tools to improve upon what you did.”

For more information on undergraduate research at Tech, visit the Undergraduate Research Opportunities website.

Ignite Welcomes 2024 Cohort

Classes for Ignite students began on Monday. Ignite is the largest summer program for incoming first-year students at Georgia Tech, providing support and a head start in building friendships, getting college credit, and adapting to life at college.

A student poses with Buzz, Georgia Tech's yellow jacket mascot, while someone takes their photo on a cell phone.
An Ignite student poses with Buzz on move-in day on June 20, ahead of the first day of classes on June 24.

On Monday, 460 first-year students began classes to jumpstart their time at Georgia Tech through Ignite, a summer program at Tech.

Over the course of the five-week program, students will earn 6-7 credit hours, be fully immersed in the culture of Tech, and build their community before the bustle of fall semester.

“Ignite is a fantastic opportunity for incoming first-year students to acclimate both socially and academically to life at Tech,” said Erik Johnson, assistant director of Ignite at Tech. “It allows them to adapt to college life in a supportive environment and builds a strong foundation for their future success. We pride ourselves in providing an experience that all Ignite students will benefit from, and one that helps to solidify their confidence in the decision they made to join our Yellow Jacket community”

Students typically take GT1000, a one-credit seminar course required for all students, and one to two additional classes. Students pick from eight tracks that will guide their learning experience: Analyzing Atlanta, GTF1RST (a specific track for first-generation college students), Health & Wellbeing, Innovation, Leadership, Pre-Health, Sustainability, and Undergraduate Research.

Beyond academics, the Ignite students enjoy programming throughout the five weeks to get to know Atlanta and Tech. Past cohorts have attended Atlanta United games, gone whitewater rafting, made pottery at Paper and Clay or completed the ropes course on campus, gone indoor skydiving, and visited Six Flags Over Georgia. The program takes pride in offering over 75 events each summer for students to attend.

Ignite students living on campus moved in to Glenn and Towers Hall on June 20 to settle in for the semester. Amid the frenetic energy of getting belongings to their dorms, students were excited for the semester ahead of them. Caitlin Maroney, an Ignite student this year, noted she and her roommates had already been thinking about which events they wanted to attend after they move in.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “We’ve been talking about which ones we want to go to for weeks. Beyond that, I’m excited to settle in and get set up for the summer.”

In addition to helping students navigate campus and classes for the fall semester, completing courses over the summer allows them to gain a solid understanding of the resources provided by Tech. This head start gives students more time to connect with the Career Center and other campus units, enabling them to build their resumes and explore professional development opportunities.

And through shared classes, events, and activities, students build strong connections with their peers, creating a support network that can be crucial throughout their college years.

“Ignite helped me find a community on campus, and that was one of the things I was most nervous about coming to a school where I knew nobody,” said Sameer Arora, a 2023 Ignite participant. “Professionally, I think it helped expose me to a ton of opportunities both on and off campus. Whether it was how to organize my resume to apply for internships, what skills hiring managers are looking for, or simply where the Career Center is on campus.”

To learn more about Ignite, visit their website.

Academic Success and Advising Announces CCG and Advising Award Recipients

Enrollment Management’s Ashton Tomlin, senior assistant director of the Office of Special Scholarships at Georgia Tech, received the 2024 Academic Success and Advising (ASA) Award for her work with the Tech Promise Scholars program.

by Anna HolcombNicole LeonardShannon Dobranski, Ph.D. and Lorett Swank, Ph.D. on June 14, 2024.

Graduating Georgia Tech Stamps Scholars Receive National Recognition and Honors 

The past year saw multiple accolades and awards for students in the Stamps President’s Scholars Program at Georgia Tech. This merit-based scholarship program provides support and professional development for Tech students beginning in their first year.

2023-24 proved to be a banner year for many of Georgia Tech’s Stamps President’s Scholars, with graduating students selected for 14 prestigious scholarships or awards over the past year.  

The 2024 Stamps President's Scholars pose for a photo at the end of year celebration gala.
Graduating Stamps President’s Scholars received multiple awards and recognition for their work during their time at Georgia Tech.

These accomplishments include: 

Beyond these accolades, graduating scholars are going on to prestigious graduate or medical schools, including the University of Oxford, the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University. Those joining the workforce have secured positions at companies including Meta, Apple, and Mckinsey & Company. 

“The Stamps President’s Scholars Program is tailored to aid already exceptional students in their pursuit of extraordinary opportunities through professional development and support,” said Chaffee Viets, director of the Office of Special Scholarships. “Seeing the continued success of our Scholars showcases that this program yields strong returns for our students and by extension, the arenas in which they hope to serve.” 

Venny Kojouharov poses with peers on a backpacking trip in Scotland. Scottish mountains can be seen in the background.
Knight-Hennessy Scholar Venny Kojouharov (right) on his Academic Search for Knowledge expedition to Scotland as part of the Stamps President’s Scholars Program at Georgia Tech. (Image courtesy of Venny Kojouharov)

Venny Kojouharov, a mechanical engineering graduate and Stamps President’s Scholar, was recently selected as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is a fully endowed scholars program at Stanford University that brings together students across disciplines with programming and leadership development.  

“Not only did Stamps shape what I achieved during my time at Tech, but it also influenced what I want to do,” said Kojouharov. “I applied to the Knight-Hennessy program and was excited about it because I see a lot of the great things that I got from Stamps in this graduate program – learning broader leadership concepts, connecting with students from other research areas, and having the opportunity to study internationally with them.” 

Kojouharov will start his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Stanford in the fall, continuing his research in bio-inspired robotics, meeting other scholars, and engaging with the Knight-Hennessy Scholar programming. 

As Kojouharov celebrates his recent graduation and wraps up his time as a Stamps President’s Scholar with a program-funded study abroad opportunity to Australia and New Zealand, he emphasizes the value of the program in expanding his horizons as an undergraduate student and highlighting interdisciplinary work. 

“Stamps gave me perspective,” said Kojouharov. “My friends are in completely different majors – biomedical engineering, public policy, biology. That’s a great community to have, and I’ve gotten to go on these trips and study government, economics, and social sciences in other countries. All of that has influenced what I want to do in graduate school and beyond.” 

Jacqui van Zyl stands next to the historical Georgia Institute of Technology sign on Old Campus. Tech Tower can be seen in the background.
2024 ACC InVenture Prize Winner and NSF GRFP recipient Jacqui van Zyl. (Image courtesy of Jacqui van Zyl)

Jacqui van Zyl, another graduating Stamps President’s Scholar, also emphasizes the importance of community associated with the program. 

“Everyone that I’ve met through Stamps has been unbelievably supportive of everything I’ve wanted to do, especially my cohort,” said van Zyl. “Being friends with them has been the biggest support system, especially as I moved through my academics and the stresses of navigating college and professional opportunities.” 

Van Zyl was part of the 2024 ACC InVenture Prize’s winning team, along with fellow Stamps President’s Scholar (and sister) Caitlin van Zyl, and a third Georgia Tech student, Meg Weaver. Their idea of NeuroChamp, a concealed headband to continuously monitor pediatric seizures, won them $15,000 toward continued development of the product. 

Over this summer, Jacqui will work on getting the patent process started for NeuroChamp’s technology and preparing the company to start the clinical trial process. She’ll continue working for NeuroChamp part time as she moves to Boston in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Her graduate work, which will focus on brain organoids and brain-on-chips from a mechanical perspective, is funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP). The NSF GRFP funds about 2,000 graduate students each year from a pool of around 12,000 applicants. 

Stamps President’s Scholars are merit-based scholarship recipients handpicked from the top 1-2% of incoming students before they begin their first year at Tech. The program is funded by the generosity of E. Roe Stamps and the late Penny Stamps through the national Stamps Scholars Program, and more than 100 individual President’s Scholarship endowment donors.

The selection process involves multiple rounds of interviews and a visit to campus to determine best fit for the program values: scholarship, leadership, progress, and service. 

Scholars receive a full ride scholarship to cover tuition, fees, housing, a meal plan, books, academic supplies, and a stipend for first-year students to purchase a laptop. In addition to covering immediate education expenses, the program also provides enrichment funds, faculty guide mentorship, annual cohort retreats, access to the nationwide Stamps Scholars Program network, and more resources for personal and professional development. 

This year, 50 students were invited to join the Stamps Program, an increase of 10 students from past years. 

You have the opportunity to extend assistance to an even greater number of students. Your philanthropic backing for scholarships and fellowships enables Georgia Tech to attract and nurture the most brilliant and talented individuals, both locally and globally. Make a meaningful impact today

Food for Thought, Soul, and Campus: Georgia Tech’s Community Garden

At the heart of Georgia Tech’s campus, a student-run garden provides community and fresh food.

An aerial shot of the community garden. The garden has multiple planting stations, both in rows and U-shapes. Also visible are multiple picnic tables and the pergola.

Since 2012, the community garden on Georgia Tech’s campus has offered a green space for students to get their hands dirty, learn more about self-sustenance, and take a break from the bustle of campus life to get some me time.  

“Being a large technical school, there are a ton of experiences you can’t get anywhere else that will feed your career,” said Eli Winterscheidt, community garden director and fourth-year materials science engineering major. “Things like the garden exist to feed you as a human being. Students come here and can get their hands in the dirt; they get to experience what it’s like to have fun and get outside.” 

At the beginning of last year, the space allocated to the community garden tripled in size, adding additional beds, a pergola with picnic tables, and the ability for the garden to become ADA accessible.  

Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS), the largest sustainability-focused student organization on campus, manages the garden and solicited input from the student body to inform the expansion’s design.  

Since then, Winterscheidt has enjoyed the learning curve of managing more space and opportunities for students to get involved. Every other Saturday, SOS hosts community garden workdays, which see anywhere from two to 80 participants, depending on the weather and time of year. 

On those days, students and others who are interested in working in the garden get the opportunity to connect and complete different tasks for the benefit of the crops grown in the garden. Some of the produce is given to Klemis Kitchen, an on-campus food bank for students in need, upon harvest. 

The garden grows a variety of produce: radishes, herbs, and figs from a fig tree grown from a cutting of Jimmy Carter’s own fig tree, to name just a few. 

As Winterscheidt prepares to graduate in May, he advises future Georgia Tech students to prioritize self-care in college. 

“Take time for yourself,” he said. “You’re a human being first, and then you’re a student, and then you can get involved on campus. Taking those priorities and getting them straight, and really understanding what it means to feed yourself before you feed your career.” 

To get involved with the community garden, connect with SOS on their Instagram or website, or go to a community garden day.

Georgia Tech Names New Executive Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid 

Effective July 1, the new director will assume the role.

Katie Conrad headshot
Katie Conrad was selected for the executive director role.

After a national search conducted by WittKieffer, Enrollment Management at Georgia Tech has selected Katie Conrad as the new executive director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA). She will assume this role beginning July 1, 2024. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Katie as the new leader for the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid,” said Paul Kohn, vice provost for Enrollment Management. “With her expertise and vision, we eagerly anticipate the strides she will help us make in advancing our financial aid initiatives. Together, we will continue to expand access for all students.” 

Since August 2016, Conrad has served as the senior associate director of financial aid at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Her previous positions include director of financial aid at Midway University in Midway, Kentucky, and associate director of student financial aid at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  

Conrad holds a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Transylvania University and a Master of Science in social and philosophical studies in education from the University of Kentucky. She has earned the Certified Financial Aid Administrator (FAAC) designation. 

Conrad currently serves as the vice president for training at Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SASFAA). With 22 years of experience in the financial aid profession, she has held numerous leadership roles within her state and regional financial aid associations. She has a passion for education, lifelong learning, and promotes educational access and success. 

Georgia Tech Admission Announces Final Round of Decisions

In total, over 8,200 were admitted as first-year students this year, with Tech aiming to enroll 3,900 first-year students across Summer and Fall 2024.

Nearly 60,000 students applied for admission into the 2024 first-year class at Georgia Tech this year, with 8,250 receiving admission offers.  

The admit rate for Georgia residents was 33%, and 10% for non-residents. Admitted students hail from 111 countries, all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), 130 Georgia counties, and 3,025 high schools. Of these admitted students, 10% are first-generation college students. 

“We are dedicated to recruiting students who align with Tech’s mission to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition,” said Mary Tipton Woolley, interim executive director of the Office of Undergraduate Admission. “This year’s admitted students showcase tremendous academic talent and impact on their schools and communities.” 

The Office of Undergraduate Admission received a record number of first-year applications during both Regular Decision and Early Action application periods. And following intensive travel efforts across the state of Georgia, applications from Georgia students increased 13% this year. 

“As we’ve intensified our focus on recruiting students from across our state, I’m proud of the work our team did to visit 60 more counties than in past years,” said Woolley. “Expanding access starts in our home state.” 

To support the Institute’s strategic plan to expand access and provide opportunities for all enrolled students, from the 8,250 students offered admission, Tech aims to enroll approximately 3,900 students in this first-year class. This represents a 4% student increase from last year and a record high for the Institute.  

Currently, over 2,000 students have accepted their admission offer by paying their enrollment deposit. But Tech has extended the enrollment commitment deposit deadline to May 15 for incoming first-year students classified as Georgia residents. The deadline for students classified as non-Georgia residents remains May 1.  

In the coming weeks, Undergraduate Admission and departments across campus will host multiple tailored campus visit events for admitted students. 

“The admission team has and will continue to work hard to recruit top students, but we can’t do our work without the support of deeply engaged campus partners who are committed to helping us enroll a fantastic new class,” said Woolley.  

View the 2024 first-year admitted profile below or on the admission website.

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Community Market Brings Local Food, Other Small Businesses to Heart of Campus 

Craving Mediterranean food? Want a pair of student-crafted earrings? The Community Market seeks to serve students by providing a time and place for food vendors, student artists, and campus organizations to connect with Georgia Tech students.

The Wednesday Community Market set up along Tech Green.

Though campus is often buzzing with activity, Community Market days bring a unique energy to Georgia Tech. With novel cuisines to try, various campus organizations to connect with, and art for sale lining the sidewalks, students can take a pause from their day to explore student life and support small businesses. 

The market takes place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesdays along the southern edge of Tech Green, and in Tech Square at Centergy One Plaza on Thursdays at the same time. The Thursday market is a recent addition following student requests and hosts similar vendors and opportunities. 

While the market initially emerged to provide a variety of healthy food options for students, it has since expanded to serve additional student requests in the form of supplemental vendor options and opportunities to showcase avenues to get involved on campus. 

“The idea began because we want to create community around sustainability,” said Malte Weiland, senior sustainability project manager at Tech’s Campus Services department. “We want it to be a functioning community for students, and we’re also taking care of that community through support for both students and vendors.” 

Moroccan cuisine, roasted nuts, teas, and local honey are just a few of the regular offerings on the food side, while jewelry, crochet, and clothing are some of the common wares showcased by student entrepreneurs.  

Student organizations can set up for free, provided sustainability plays a role in their initiatives. Student entrepreneurs can also sell their work for free, a perk that many Tech students find helpful in sharing and profiting from their work. 

Bella Brunner, third-year mechanical engineering student as well as manager and frequent vendor for the Community Market, noted that the low barrier for entry for students encourages exploration of their entrepreneurial side without encountering the prohibitive costs often associated with selling at markets.  

Beyond that, Brunner emphasizes the importance of the market for enhancing student life. 

“The market provides a valuable space for students to connect with their peers and forge new relationships,” said Brunner. “Whether it’s bonding over a shared love of pastries or discovering a mutual appreciation for handmade crafts, the market fosters a sense of camaraderie and belonging among students, enhancing their overall sense of community on campus.” 

The Community Market is always open to hearing what students want to see at the market and welcomes suggestions and feedback. 

“We are continually improving to meet student needs,” said Weiland. 

Students and others can connect or learn more about becoming a vendor at the Community Market on their Instagram.