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The Office of Engagement's Beacon Scholars program is designed to provide First Generation University of Utah students with a small community on campus. Through this community students support each other in achieving academic success as well as staying connected throughout their educational careers. Beacon scholars engage at the university and in their own communities, inspiring future generations to strive to achieve higher education. Students engage in their communities with their ideas, passions, and perseverance in order to make a difference. Students design and direct their own projects building their leadership and programming skills with the freedom to dream big and "fail forward."

How To Apply?

Beacon is a small community with limited spaces available. Students are selected based on their fit within the community and interest in being involved. Students interested in getting involved in Beacon should contact us to request an application.

Have a question we didn't answer? No problem, contact us and we will happily provide you with any information we can. Our office hustles and bustles and people are in and out frequently. As we try and be present and live in the moment with our students, we are not easy to catch by phone. However, we are great by email! Fill out our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Linda Paternina Serrano, Beacon Scholars Program Manager,

Emilio Manuel Camu, Beacon Scholars Adviser,

Find Out More: 

Incoming first-year students are paired with established U student mentors to help them get on the inside track and quickly learn the tricks of navigating University systems. First-year "mentees" attend a class designed to help introduce and connect them with the multitude of resources and opportunities available on campus. Mentees, alongside their mentor, will be challenged to develop or participate in a community engagement project that is ongoing and has a substantial impact. Beacon mentees become members of a small community and have the opportunity to build close relationships, develop leadership skills, make a difference in the community, and have fun along the way.

Independent Scholars are second year students, those who are new to the Beacon scholars program, or those who have previously been an independent, a mentor, or a leader and want to stay involved while pursuing more independent projects and professional development. Students undertake a community engagement project that is ongoing and has a substantial impact. Students may continue projects from previous years or act as social entrepreneurs and develop new programming. Indies (for short) participate in in the Beacon community and take a leadership role helping to plan lectures and socials for the group.

Beacon Mentors are established University of Utah students who want to share their experience and hard-earned wisdom to help incoming students adapt quickly and efficiently to university life. Mentors provide incoming students with tips, tricks, and advice on how to get the most out of the university. Mentors are also a friendly face and a social ambassador, who helps ease the transition of becoming one of 30,000 students on this campus. Mentors work in tandem with their mentee on the development and completion of an engagement project. Mentors also participate in a class with their peers aimed at helping to enhance their mentoring through training, peer support, and problem solving.

Grad and Career Scholars Students participate in a yearlong program which will focus on exploring and preparing for the next steps after graduation. Students will discuss and explore the value and merit of a graduate education and learn tips for choosing a program that will help them achieve their career goals. We will also focus on preparing to be competitive in the job market. Students will learn skills for "landing" that first job. Additionally, students will participate in training workshops which focus on workplace skills that are necessary in every career (i.e. project management, conflict resolution, leading from limited power, workplace computer skills).

Beacon Leaders are the students who have taken on the role of making this program happen. Beacon leaders take on all aspects of program planning for the Beacon scholars. Leaders are responsible for recruiting and selecting program participants. Leaders develop program schedules and coordinate guest presenters/facilitators, as well as plan social events. Leaders facilitate group discussions and keep the cohorts progressing. Leaders also monitor engagement project progress and provide support and direction as needed.

What is an engagement project? This has been an evolving element of Beacon since the program's inception. As it sits today, an engagement project is work undertaken and directed by students that is ongoing, relationship-based, or has a substantial impact in the community. The Office of Engagement has a particular interest in promoting college access for all students and therefore emphasizes "Imagine, Prepare, Do" projects that aim to help young students achieve a college education. However, we know that students are incredible innovators with passions in many social enterprises. As such, we fully support student entrepreneurs who wish to try new ideas, dream big, and make a difference in any issue.

The Office of Engagement offers sponsorship to students who are appealing an admissions decision. Our primary focus is on students who are referred directly by a Utah College Access Advisor (UCAC), from the Mestizo Arts and Activism collective, referred by a partner organization or school, or first generation students needing a more thorough holistic review. Due to the limited spaces available in our program, we strongly encourage students to consider Student Equity and Diversity and the Women's Resource Center as alternatives. Both of these offices offer exceptional sponsorship programs which are inclusive of students of all genders and ethnicities.

Sponsorship Process

If you have received a denial letter, go to the Admissions website and review the details and deadlines for the appeals process. Once you are confident you would like to pursue an appeal, contact the sponsoring departments you are most interested in and schedule an appointment to learn about their programs. After you have met with departments, complete the Appeal of Denial Form, on which you will list The Office of Engagement as one of the offices you wish to appeal to for sponsorship. Once you have completed this form and the remaining instructions, please submit materials to the University's Admissions Office as soon as possible.

Before your meeting with the Office of Engagement:

  • Review the Beacon and Block U webpages.
  • Consider and be prepared to discuss which BlockU you are interested in taking.
  • Prepare to discuss Beacon and your plan to be engaged in the program.
  • Plan to discuss your academic aspirations, including major considerations.
  • Prepare to talk about the support you hope to have from the Office of Engagement, which will allow you to succeed in your academic aspirations.

Sponsorship expectations

Sponsored students will sign a contract agreeing to meet all Office of Engagement requirements and scholastic guidelines. The contract includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Active participation in the Beacon scholars program
    • Participate in a Peer-mentoring relationship
      • Weekly contact with mentor
      • Monthly in-person meetings with mentor
    • Participate in an Engagement project as part of a project team
    • Attend Beacon socials and events
  • Agree to enroll in and complete a Block U—see website for details and options. Some majors are currently incompatible with a BlockU. In these cases a suitable alternative (such as LEAP) may be considered.
  • Meet monthly with Office of Engagement staff
  • Communicate with the Office of Engagement
    • Respond to emails, texts, and phone calls promptly
    • Maintain up-to-date contact information with the OE
    • Be responsible and communicate attendance for meetings and events in advance
  • Seek help! When you are struggling, frustrated, or don't know how or what to do, reach out to your mentor or OE staff.

Sponsored students who fail to meet the agreements in their contract may be subject to a hold placed on their registration until they are in compliance with their agreement or, in extreme cases, revocation of admission.

Last Updated: 2/15/19