Rising Scholars Continue to 'Rise Up' Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Imagine being in high school and having no plan for your future…

Imagine being told that college is not an option for you because of finances…

Imagine no one in your family ever attending college and being discouraged at the thought…

Then, imagine hearing that Kent State University at Stark’s Rising Scholars Program could change your life.

Rising Scholars is designed to give first-generation and underrepresented students a pathway to achieve a college degree at no cost to participants. Our goal is for every student in our program to complete postsecondary education with the credentials necessary to succeed in his or her career.

Students who successfully complete the high school portion of the program will be eligible to apply for a full-tuition Rising Scholars Scholarship at Kent State Stark and change their lives forever.

The Rising Scholars program includes year-round enrichment workshops on a variety of subjects including STEM, personal leadership, academic motivation, college readiness, career exploration and civic engagement. The program also features the Summer Institute during which students have the opportunity to gain unique learning and service experiences.

A global pandemic was the last thing that Lester Sanders, Rising Scholars Program coordinator at Kent State Stark, was expecting in 2020. This program originated with Canton McKinley and has grown to include GlenOak, Canton South, Fairless, and Alliance this year.

“We are determined to keep the program going during this crisis and also want it to thrive because this is a vital ‘Real-Life Learning Opportunity’ to mentor students on how to navigate adversity in everyday life,” Sanders said. “From this pedagogical perspective, they will gain experience in overcoming adversities that are awaiting them in the future. Life is 10 percent about what happens to us and 90 percent about how we respond, and the Rising Scholars Program wants to model that in real-time.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic and period of social distancing, Sanders is making daily adjustments about how to best connect with the students utilizing remote communication technology, such as Google Meet and Zoom. The mandatory 2020 Summer Institute will be taught virtually.

Kaylee Allison is a member of the first graduating cohort of the Rising Scholars Program from Canton McKinley High School and has plans to become a nurse. “I know I can earn a college degree especially from the instruction and skills I gained from the Rising Scholars Program, my concern was paying for college. This program has taken that concern away, which will allow me to concentrate more on my goal of graduation,” said Allison. “I am grateful for this opportunity at Kent State Stark.”

The Rising Scholars Program at Kent State Stark was initially made possible through a generous donation from The Hoover Foundation. “If you truly want to make a difference in the life of a young person, the Rising Scholars Program is where it can happen,” said Beth Fuciu, associate director of advancement at Kent State Stark. “To offer these students a free college education is like offering them the world. The program is a true commitment to bettering Stark County through the education of our youth.

“There is uncertainty in the world today, but we know for certain that the Rising Scholars Program will rise above and continue to offer hope to promising young minds.”

If you are interested in making a gift to support Rising Scholars at Kent State Stark, please contact: Beth Fuciu, Associate Director of Advancement (bfuciu@kent.edu or 330-705-1122).

Image caption: Rising Scholars Program Coordinator Lester Sanders meets with Rising Scholars student, Kaylee Allison, remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

POSTED: Thursday, April 23, 2020 04:46 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 11:30 AM
Kent State University at Stark