Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program

Sunset at Potter Lake

We all have a stake in what aging futures look like. Let’s shape that future with intention.

The Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program aims to develop the next generation of leaders in the field of gerontological social work by offering an innovative, individualized, and community-engaged learning opportunity to Bachelors and Master’s students in the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare who demonstrate a passion for serving older adults through multi-level gerontology practice, policy, and research.


Currently, the number of aging-focused and -competent social workers falls far below the projected need. As we observe unprecedented growth in the size and diversity of the older adult population in the U.S. and globally, it is imperative that the we educate social workers who are well-prepared, not only to serve, but also to lead, in the field of gerontology. The Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program aims to identify BSW and MSW students with a passion for and commitment to serving older adults in their communities in order to create learning opportunities tailored to their interests and the needs of the field. This annual program will be offered to three students who can be BSW and/or MSW students. Benefits include:

  • A scholarship of $4,000 
  • 1:1 faculty mentoring
  • Leadership development and community networking opportunities
  • Specialized training and education opportunities

Program Goals

  • Expose students to significant shortfalls in the gerontology-specific workforce and diverse needs and strengths of the older adult population
  • Create a space for students to gain awareness, knowledge, and experience around aging-related policy issues and innovative practice approaches
  • Foster a community of learners to engage and support one another and to join the larger network of interdisciplinary aging service providers
  • Center the professional goals and individual strengths of students to encourage them to become leaders in the School of Social Welfare and in their own communities


    Scholarships will be offered to three students who can be BSW or MSW level. Eligibility includes all campus/partnership sites, program types (part-/full-time), and levels. Applicants must be in good academic standing.

    Scholars will be selected based on their:

    1. Demonstrated passion for practice with older adults (including those who have and have not yet had extensive aging practice experience)
    2. Commitment to serving older adults in micro, messo, and/or macro practice settings through their future practice
    3. Ability to think critically about aging as a social justice issue. Preference will be given to those who will be in an aging-focused practicum placement during the 2024-2025 academic year

    Scholars will:

    • Receive a $4,000 scholarship to offset school expenses
    • Participate in four scholars’ meetings over the course of the 2024-2025 academic year
    • Engage in professional mentoring with the Aging Scholars Program Director (Dr. Sarah Jen)
    • Develop and implement a community-action project (can be an individual or collaborative effort) focused on promoting aging-related education, services, and/or advocacy aimed to support relevant and pressing community needs

    Applicants must complete an application form and submit a 2-page personal essay describing the applicant’s:

    • Interest in, passion for, and commitment to aging-related practice, research, and/or policy issues including attention to aging as a social justice issue;
    • Past experiences working with older adults, if applicable. If not applicable, discuss prior practice experience and its potential relevance to aging-related services;
    • Anticipated practicum site for the 2024-2025 academic year (if your practicum placement is not yet assigned, describe your preferences for your site);
    • Professional goals (must be aging-related).

    2024-2025 Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program - Application

    Applications must be submitted by April 10th, 2024.

    Scholars will be announced by May 6th, 2024. Questions regarding the Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program and applications can be directed to Sarah Jen (

    Eric Sigler, Founder

    "We are in a great profession, and we must remind ourselves of the tremendous responsibility we have to our clients and our work."
    Eric and Kristie Sigler

    Community Action Projects

    As part of the Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program, students develop and implement a community action project.

    Projects focus on promoting aging-related education, services and/or advocacy aimed to support relevant and pressing community needs.

    Prior Community Action Projects

    In 2021-2022, scholars Tobi Barta, Olivia Sabal and Kamri Wolverton hosted the Untold Stories live art exhibition as well as creating a digital archive of the collected artwork. The exhibition was hosted in the KU Commons in April 2022 and was attended by over 130 community members and featured the work of 30 artists.

    In 2022-2023, scholars Kristin Nichols, Sam Gibson and Lindsay Huddlestun interviewed professionals in gerontology to create a video promoting aging practice. You can view the short version of the video below. View the long version of the video on YouTube.

    2023-2024 Sigler Scholars

    • Hayley Hochstatter, MSW advanced standing student

    • Jennifer Gusewelle, second-year MSW student

    • Madelaine Howard, first-year MSW student

    2022-2023 Sigler Scholars

    Lindsay Huddlestun (She/Her)

    "I'm honored to be selected to stand with faculty and students that have the same passion as myself. Working with Aging individuals is rewarding as you get to learn about their past, you get to help them in their present, and you get to plan for their future."

    Lindsay Huddlestun

    Samantha Gibson (She/Her)

    "One of the driving forces behind my decision to pursue an MSW here at KU was the prospect of becoming a Sigler Scholar and expanding my knowledge about gerontological social work. I am particularly excited about the specialized learning opportunities and upcoming community involvement."

    Samantha Gibson

    Kristin Nichols (She/Her)

    "I am very excited to be a Sigler Scholar, as I have a heart for the aging population. Having the opportunity to grow and gain knowledge and experience through this program will help me to improve upon my skills and ability to provide optimal care to older adults."

    Kristin Nichols

    Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program Director