Graduation time for 15 Rural Scholars from Columbiana County

They were there from the beginning of the program, as middle school students. They were directed to the Rural Scholars program because their teachers detected something special in each of them. Now, six years later, they are each ready to move onto the next phase of their lives: college, trade school, the workplace. Each is a graduate of the Kent State Columbiana County Rural Scholars Program.

A ceremony was held to recognize the 15 members of the Rural Scholars program who are each graduating from their respective high schools this spring.

Each scholar completed six full years of comprehensive, structured, enlightening and often rigorous educational experiences through the Rural Scholars Program at Kent State University.

The graduating scholars include: 

  • Amanda Bowling, Southern Local High School
  • Hannah Boyd, Southern Local High School, CCCTC
  • Cat Clarkson, Wellsville High School and CCCTC
  • Judith Crawford, Crestview High School
  • Kyleen Culler, Lisbon David Anderson High School and CCCTC
  • Randy Felton, Lisbon David Anderson High School
  • Korbin Grim, East Liverpool High School
  • Elijah Hayes, Wellsville High School
  • Hannah Hephner, Crestview High School
  • KJ Kovar, Southern Local High School
  • Victoria Mayer, Lisbon David Anderson High School
  • Bryce Oller, Salem High School​​​​​​​
  • Kasinda Schmidt, Southern Local High School and Shale Academy​​​​​​​
  • Juli Spence, Salem High School​​​​​​​
  • Taylar Thomas, Springfield High School

The scholars were recognized by Dr. David Dees, dean and chief administrative officer of the Columbiana Campuses. Kent State student mentors presented each scholar with a stole that can be worn at his or her respective high school graduation ceremony.

The keynote speaker was John Biastro, a member of the Rural Scholars advisory board.

Dr. Celeste Oprean, assistant dean at Kent State Salem, and Dr. Susan Rossi, assistant dean at Kent State East Liverpool, presented the scholars with certificates.

The Rural Scholars Program is designed to offer local first-generation college-bound students and their families the knowledge and social support needed to succeed at a university. The goal is for each student in the program to complete a post-secondary education with credentials necessary to succeed in his or her career. Students are chosen by their schools on the basis of their academic and leadership potential.

The scholars participate in year-round activities that help them better understand the resources and opportunities that are available in nearby communities. Hands-on workshops and programming help them learn about careers in business, industry, manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and technology, while other sessions provide intensive lessons in environmental sciences, health and physical science, leadership, communication and study skills.

Kent State Salem and East Liverpool students serve as mentors to the younger scholars. Each mentor is a first-generation college student from Columbiana County with a strong record of academic success and a desire to serve the community. 

Currently, there are more than 100 rural scholars in the program from grades seven through 12. Participating schools include Crestview Local, East Liverpool City Schools, Leetonia Exempted Village, Lisbon Village Exempted, Salem City Schools, Southern Local Schools, United Local Schools and Wellsville Local Schools.

The program also includes Kent State students who serve as mentors to the rural scholars. Each is also a first-generation college student from Columbiana County with a strong record of academic success and a desire to serve the community. 

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Photo: The 2019 Kent State Rural Scholars graduates participating in the graduation ceremony include (front, from left) Taylar Thomas, Amanda Bowling, Hannah Boyd, Kasinda Schmidt, Judi Crawford, Victoria Mayer, Juli Spence; and (back, from left) Elijah Hayes, Randy Felton, Korbin Grim, KJ Kovar, Kyleen Culler, Hannah Hephner

POSTED: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 10:13 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 07:25 AM