Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program

Sunset at Potter Lake

Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program

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 offer to one BSW student and two MSW students:

  • A scholarship of $2,000
  • Support from a community of learners with shared interests
  • Specialized learning opportunities (e.g., brown bag guest lectures, community-based events, an archive of aging-focused resources, etc.)
  • Personalized mentoring from a gerontology-focused faculty member
  • Opportunities to reflect on and develop one’s leadership skills
  • Culmination of one’s learning into a community-based action project

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 one BSW student and two MSW students. 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, and 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 2021 – 2022 Academic Year.

    Scholars will:

    • Receive a $2,000 scholarship to offset school expenses
    • Participate in four scholars’ meetings over the course of the 2021 – 2022 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 2021 – 2022 Academic Year;
    • Professional goals (must be aging-related).

    Online applications must be submitted to Dr. Sarah Jen ( by July 2, 11:59pm CST. Scholars will be announced by July 16. Questions regarding the Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program and applications can also be directed to Dr. Jen.

    Application for 2021-22 Academic Year

    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

    Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program Director