Professional Development Diversity Travel Award

The David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity at the University of Rochester strives to expand the educational pipeline through the doctoral degree for low-income, first-generation college, and underrepresented minority students. The center focuses on creating replicable and scalable educational models that will increase the number of low-income and historically underrepresented individuals pursuing undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.

The David T. Kearns Professional Development Diversity Travel Award encourages and enables graduate students at the University of Rochester to participate in diversity-related professional and academic conferences for their professional development. Conference travel is essential to the intellectual growth and development of graduate students. Students will have opportunities for presentation of their research in a professional setting, along with opportunities for networking and exposure to current academic research.


  • Students at the University of Rochester that are underrepresented, such as students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ students, religious minorities, or first-generation college students.
  • The applying student must be an enrolled, matriculated graduate student in good academic standing in the Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at UR both at the time of application and at the time of travel.
  • A willingness to create positive change within the arts, sciences, and engineering field and a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Travel Award Guidelines

Travel awards are based on merit and are intended to reimburse transportation, lodging, and membership expenses partially. The maximum grant award is $1,000 domestic, $1,500 international.

  • Students must apply for funding to attend an academic or professional conference, case competition, or workshop focusing on diversity.
  • Students may receive up to one Diversity Travel Award per academic year.
  • After attending the conference/professional development event, awardees must submit a Finalized Expense Report within one week of the conclusion of the conference date listed on the award.
  • Submit a 500-word document with a picture highlighting the conference, including techniques/skills learned, conference benefits, and how important these awards are in supporting those from diverse backgrounds in higher education.
  • Students who participated in CASC 401: Navigating the Graduate Academy course will be given priority to receive access to funding.

Completed Application

  • Completed application form
  • A CV/Resume
  • A one-page document providing a brief description of the conference overview, benefits of the conference, impact on participant attending, and how the conference supports a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • A letter of support from the participant’s faculty advisor in support of attending the conference.


Early applications are accepted and encouraged. All application materials are due by 4 p.m. on the dates listed below:

Fall conferences: August 15
Spring conferences: January 15
Summer conferences: May 15

Apply Online

Selection Criteria

Awards are granted by the committee based on the strength of the recommendation, application, and the nature of the conference being considered for attendance. The top three candidates will be awarded during each cycle. Selection will be made within two weeks of the deadline dates.

Selection will be based on the following:

  • A commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in research.
  • The impact of research on the UR greater community.
  • Value of letter of recommendation.
  • Accomplishments/Leadership/Community Involvement.

Contact Us

Don't hesitate to contact us directly to inquire about the application.

Antonio Williams
Director, Graduate Diversity Initiatives
(585) 278-7155

Headshot of Dominique Houslin.

2024 Diversity Travel Award Recipient

“The experience was enriching on multiple levels. I participated in career-building workshops, reconnected with University of Rochester alumni, and reconnected with fellow alumni from my Jamaican high school! The most significant outcome, however, was securing a job offer at the conference itself. This wouldn't have been possible without the invaluable support of the David T. Kearns Center, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the University of Rochester NSBE chapter.”

—Graduate Student Dominique Houslin
Technical Entrepreneurship and Management
Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences