USG Downtown provides Professional Development Funding to students

The program aims to help students continue their academic and professional careers by offsetting costs of professional endeavors

The Professional Development Funding program from Undergraduate Student Government Downtown helps students pay for parts of their education that they may not have been able to otherwise.

Students at the Downtown Phoenix campus can apply until the March 12 deadline to get funding toward professional development opportunity costs, such as professional attire, graduate exam registration and presentation materials.

While the funding for graduate exams is geared toward seniors, the apparel funding is open to all downtown students.

Nora Thompson, USGD president and a senior studying public service and public policy, hopes the program will help students overcome potential financial burdens. 

“They don’t have to decide between looking nice with their jacket (for an interview) and groceries,” Thompson said. “They’re able to buy the jacket and then still purchase groceries.”

McKenna Hubbard, director of appropriations for USGD and a sophomore studying criminology and criminal justice said the program will make professional opportunities for students more equitable.

“It helps to get rid of some of that financial disparity that we see on the Downtown campus,” Hubbard said. “We want to be able to level the playing field as much as possible.” 

Applicants for the program may receive up to $24 for interview apparel and presentation items, and those applying for graduate exams can receive up to 50% of the cost of the exam, although not exceeding $100. 

USGD's budget, which was put together by the previous administration, had $7,000 dedicated to this program. In response to the pandemic and shifts to online modalities, Thompson changed the purpose of the funds to better target students' new needs. 

Prior to the pandemic, this money went toward air travel and access to sporting events for Cronkite students, said Monica Medina, USGD vice president of services and a senior studying health sciences. 

“Because of COVID we can’t really travel, and we still want students to be able to grow professionally,” Medina said. 

Medina said she and another USGD executive board member are both applying to graduate school and after being inspired by their own experiences, decided to help run a campaign adding graduate exams to the program.

Medina said these exams are expensive. For example, the Law School Admission Test, which Medina plans on taking, has a $200 registration fee. 

“We wanted to help cover those costs because those exams are so expensive,” Medina said. “There are so many pre-med students, so many pre-dental students (and) pre-professional students who could benefit from having a subsidized test.” 

The Downtown campus also has a variety of programs and majors that are potentially burdensome for students financially because of expenses for professional events and programs required for degrees like nursing.

“For us, it was super important to have the clothing aspect because of the majors we have on campus,” Thompson said. “Students that are trying to get into medical school need clinical hours, and that requires scrubs.”

Students can apply once per semester for the funding program through Sun Devil Sync. After filling out the forms and documents, the applications will go to the appropriations committee for approval. Hubbard said it is more than likely that these applications will pass. 

Other campuses have similar programs for students, including USG Tempe's higher education exam reimbursement program

Members of USGD hope this program will help students succeed academically as they move forward in their careers.

“We believe that your academic progress and internships … should(n’t) be hindered by your ability or inability to pay for a test or for professional clothing,” Hubbard said. 


Reach the reporter at mcfisch4@asu.edu and follow @morgfisch on Twitter. 

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