Rural Scholars Program recognizes first graduating class

Finally – after six full years of comprehensive, structured, enlightening and often rigorous educational experiences – 16 area high school seniors participating in the Kent State University’s Rural Scholars Program are graduating.

To mark this milestone, a celebration was held on the Salem Campus to recognize those students who have completed the program. Recognized were:

  • Dalton Ash of Southern Local High School
  • Jacob Baker of Crestview High School
  • Johnathon (Jon) Black of Crestview High School
  • Lanay Brentley of East Liverpool High School
  • Morgan Briand of Lisbon David Anderson Jr./Sr. High School
  • Hannah DeLand of Lisbon David Anderson Jr./Sr. High School
  • Robert (Joey) Dickson of Southern Local High School
  • Tristen Hinkle of Wellsville High School
  • Toni Laney of Southern Local High School
  • Christopher (Chris) Pritt of East Liverpool High School
  • Courtney Rebuck of Salem High School
  • Calie Sherrill of Crestview High School
  • Erin Taylor of East Liverpool High School
  • Tyler Timmann of Salem High School
  • Harley Webb Home School
  • Jarrod Westover of the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center and Opportunity School

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

Dr. Charles K. Leedy, a member of the Kent State East Liverpool advisory board, was the keynote speaker for the event. Special guests included State Rep. Timothy Ginter, advisory board members from the Salem and East Liverpool campuses, as well as administrators from area high schools.

Certificates were presented to the scholars by Dr. Celeste Oprean, assistant dean at Kent State Salem, and Dr. Susan Rossi, assistant dean at Kent State East Liverpool. The Rural Scholars faculty advocate, Dr. Rachael Blasiman, also addressed the graduates.

Former program director, Wendy Pfrenger, addressed the graduates and families via a pre-recorded video message. She recently relocated out of state, but offered words of encouragement, gratitude and praise for the scholars as they transition to the next phase of their lives. 

The Rural Scholars program began several years ago through the vision of Dees, while Pfrenger helped shape the direction of the program and guide its growth. Over the course of last six years, the number of scholars continues to grow; the number of school districts has grown; the number of mentors has grown; and the financial contributions to support the program increased.

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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Headline Photo:  Dr. Charles K. Leedy (far left) and Dr. David Dees (far right) stand with the first class of graduates from the Kent State Columbiana County Rural Scholars Program. The graduates include (front, from left) Morgan Briand, Calie Sherrill, Lanay Brentley, Erin Taylor, Toni Laney; and (back, from left) Jon Black, Jacob Baker, Dalton Ash, Jarrod Westover, Joey Dickson.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 2, 2018 03:12 PM
UPDATED: Thursday, February 29, 2024 09:20 AM