Rural Scholars Program at Kent State Salem and East Liverpool Campuses Gains New Leader

The Rural Scholars program held several workshops throughout the summer, with new scholars, new mentors and a new program leader - Michelle Adkins.

Michelle Adkins serves as outreach coordinator for the Rural Scholars program at the Salem and East Liverpool campuses.

Ms. Adkins was named the outreach program coordinator for the Rural Scholars program on Kent State University's Salem and East Liverpool campuses, and she hit the ground running when she began her new duties in June.

“I started this position at a time when I could experience the last two summer workshops, which targeted our two youngest audiences,” she explains. “I was able to connect with the mentors, chat with the young scholars and meet some of our community partners. I observed the passion of the mentors as they interacted with the young scholars, and I watched as the scholars connected with their mentors. For some, that is the only thing close to a big brother or big sister they have.”

Most recently, Ms. Adkins served as the outreach program coordinator with Workforce Development for Kent State University at Trumbull, a role she held for three years. While there, she assisted students with developing and meeting their training and career goals. She also coordinated continuing education and professional development programs.

Prior to that, Ms. Adkins was the outreach program manager with the Ohio State University Extension Program from 2004-2013, working with 4-H programs in the Cortland area. She managed county-based university outreach and education programs that included training volunteer staff and providing educational activities and leadership opportunities for youth.

From 1999-2004, she served as the outreach program manager for the Michigan State University’s Extension Program and its 4-H youth development program, where she worked with community groups to provide out-of-school and after-school programming for youth.

Ms. Adkins graduated from Ohio State in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture and in 2001 with a Master of Science degree in human and community resource development. 

She is a certified test proctor with the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council and received her certification as a global career development facilitator in 2016 from the National Career Development Association. 

“My background in youth development, coupled with my experience in workforce development and career development led me to the Rural Scholars program,” she says. “It was as if everything I have ever studied and experienced led me to this program. I fell in love with it!”

Ms. Adkins’ extensive experience working with students of all ages will enhance the experiences for the scholars as they prepare for and plan their futures.

“I have experience helping youth see the possibilities in their world, and I have a history of instilling confidence and leadership into the young people I work with,” she says. “This program has so many different levels and engages different audiences – from parents, to youth, to public schools, to college students, to community businesses and organizations. It really helps young people see the vast amount of people who are pulling for them and are willing to help them succeed. This program embodies one of my favorite quotes: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’”

Ms. Adkins has already set some lofty goals that will help strengthen relationships with all of the stakeholders: scholars, mentors, area school administrators, scholars’ family members and/or guardians, business leaders and donors.

“One of my goals is to simply learn the program,” she says. “This program is multifaceted with many moving parts. I want to have a solid and comprehensive understanding of the entire program.

“My ultimate goal for this year is quite simple: listen and learn!” 


The Kent State 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 ultimate goal is for each student in the program to complete a postsecondary education with credentials necessary to succeed in his or her career. 

Middle school and high school students are selected by their respective schools to participate based their academic and leadership potential. 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 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.

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. 

POSTED: Thursday, September 20, 2018 11:25 AM
UPDATED: Monday, February 26, 2024 10:29 AM