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The CELP Scholar Program - Community, Equity, Learning, Persistence

The Aquarium’s CELP Scholar Program seeks to broaden participation in marine sciences, help more students find their own community in STEM, and support students’ persistence in the field.

kelp blade

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific / Andrew Reitsma

Informed by the successes of the African American Scholar Program.
Focusing on a regional effort of recruitment.
Prioritizing community college and undergraduate applicants.
Providing financial investment, engagement, networking, and membership in a growing community.

Addressing the complex environmental challenges facing our planet requires participation from a wide range of lived experiences. The Aquarium’s CELP Scholar Program seeks to broaden participation in marine sciences, help more students find their own community in STEM, and support students’ persistence in the field.

Eligible students are:

  • Enrolled in a community college, undergraduate, masters or PhD program in Southern California through at least December 2024.
  • Studying any STEM field related to ocean and coastal environments, marine conservation, or informal science education. Majors may include life science, biology, marine science, oceanography, environmental science, and others.
  • Able to complete a W9 or W8 to the Aquarium for award processing.

All members of our community are invited to apply. The Aquarium believes everyone is welcome in the work we do. Applicants of any race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status are welcome.

Students who identify as a member of groups who haven’t seen themselves well represented in STEM and marine science, or who find themselves not feeling they fit in STEM, are strongly encouraged to apply. Similarly, students who have experienced and worked to overcome educational or economic disadvantage and/or have personal or family circumstances that may complicate their continued progress in science careers are also encouraged to apply.

The goal of the Aquarium’s CELP Scholar Program is to provide support networks, access to Aquarium programs and staff members, professional development, and financial support to help emerging scholars explore their future place in STEM.

CELP Scholars will receive:

  • Curated introductions to Aquarium staff and professional networking opportunities.
  • Engagement with Aquarium programs to explore interests and career paths.
  • “CELP Board” - A quarterly e-newsletter including job postings, internships, scholar updates, and invitations to Aquarium events.
  • Scheduled professional development webinars available for live participation and recorded for on-demand viewing.
  • An invitation to various CELP Scholar community building events. 
  • A financial award of $10,000.

CELP Scholars commit to the following in their first year:

  • Participate in quarterly virtual check-in meetings.
  • Identify and engage in an Aquarium initiative of interest to their individual professional development needs or career goals.
  • Present a 5-minute “Lightning Talk” during the Scholar Symposium scheduled for Saturday, September 28, 2024 at the Aquarium.
  • Attend at least one additional in-person event.

Required Materials

  1. Applicants must register an account via the application portal.
  2. Required materials must be submitted prior to the deadline including:
    • School transcript (official or unofficial) indicating enrollment through at least December 2024.
    • Signed photo release.
    • Signed licensing agreement.
    • Contact information for two references.
    • Signed acknowledgement.
    • Resume or CV.
  3. Short answer essays: We recommend at least 250 words for each answer:
    • Why are you interested in the Aquarium’s CELP Scholar Program? What do you hope to gain, learn, and/or experience?
    • How does your field of study and/or career plans relate to work of the Aquarium of the Pacific? How can direct engagement with the Aquarium support your professional development?
    • Describe a specific challenge you’ve faced either personally or academically and how you overcame it.
    • Through the CELP Scholar Program, the Aquarium looks to build a community that supports, encourages, and inspires each other. How do you see yourself participating in this community?
    • Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you? (optional)

Application Timeline

Key Dates Milestones
DEC 15, 2023 Application opens
JAN 15, 2024 Live webinar explaining program and application process. Now available on-demand.
FEB 19, 2024 Deadline for application submission
MAR 18, 2024 Zoom interviews with finalists begin
MAY 2024 Announcement of 2024 CELP Scholars

Application Details

  • Aquarium of the Pacific paid employees, Board members, and their immediate families are not eligible. Volunteers and their immediate families are eligible to apply.
  • Applications will be split into two categories during the selection process:
      1. Graduate program (Masters or PhD) and
      1. Undergraduate/community college
  • At least 60% of the award recipients, if not more, will be from the community college/undergraduate pool of applicants.
  • Award recipients will be selected in part by a committee of Aquarium staff members, scholar alumni, and members of the community.
  • The number of recipients may change each year.
  • Total awards of $10,000 will be paid out in two incremental installments. Additional details will be communicated during the time of award notification.
  • Recipients will be notified in mid April 2024.
  • Recipients will be asked to provide a headshot and a short video for Aquarium announcement materials.
  • Recipients and their families will be invited to the public announcement event at Aquarium early May 2024.
  • Award recipients are asked to present for the Scholar Symposium scheduled for Saturday, September 28, 2024 at the Aquarium. The in-person event is an opportunity to network and connect as a community.

If you have questions regarding the application or eligibility requirements, please email CELPScholars@LBAOP.ORG.

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