About the Pen Pals Program

About the program:

Welcome to the ‘Pen pals with a purpose’ program’s webpage!! This student-lead and run program is an annual collaboration between the Vanderbilt Graduate School and Metro Nashville Public Schools.

History of the program:

This program was first planned in 2012 by Dr. Omozusi “Zusi” Andrews and Dr. E. Margarita Prieto-Ballengee, when they were PHD candidates at Vanderbilt. As they participated in the 2012 Graduate School’s Hike for the Homeless, they conceived the idea of a pen pal program that would pair graduate students with middle schoolers, with the aim of encouraging interest in higher education while giving them an idea of daily lives and research practices of a graduate student.

The pilot program took off in 2013 with about 40 middle school students from MNPS schools and was met with great success from all sides. Since then, it has become an annual program of the Graduate Student Council, with nearly 100 students each year participating in the program.

Vanderbilt press article about the program:


Recommended reading:

Roberts, Gretchen Lorena, and Merilee McCurdy. “Impact of College Pen Pal Program on Fourth Grade Writing Attitudes and Skills.” (2017).

Please read the program details on the next page and sign up here!- (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1RksnIwifACWcxnHaYp0N8_DZsk9j9Ueo4VRLCYIM_0c/edit?usp=sharing )