Rising Scholars program transforms lives for local middle schoolers

Ellie Dundics

For some, middle school is a time for braces and bad taste in music. But at Kent State Geauga, it’s a pivotal time for career training and learning development.

Kent Geauga’s newly founded Rising Scholar program implements Kent Geauga students into the halls of Berkshire Local Schools, Cardinal Local Schools, Twinsburg City Schools and Nordonia Hills City Schools to create mentors for students in need of guidance.

Mentors are required to have a 2.5 GPA, be a full time student at the Geauga campus, possess a desire to help middle schoolers and preferably be a first generation college student.

“This program plans to do two things,” said Robin Dever,  the coordinator of Rising Scholars Geauga. “To help make better students — that they will be the best person and student they can be, and to help make better community members.”

The program will start at the beginning of Fall 2019 with eight students in their sixth-grade year and two Kent Geauga students. With each year that passes, an additional eight students will be added to the program with more Kent Geauga students to follow as needed.

The mentors will go to assigned schools once a month to guide middle schoolers on what it’s like to be a college student, what applying for financial aid is like, how they dealt with difficulties in life and what they did to get into college.

This program will hopefully enhance success in whatever field the students choose, whether it be through furthering their education, attending the military or going straight into the workforce.

Any of the Rising Scholar students are eligible for full paid tuition at Kent Geauga. 

The Rising Scholars Program was created based on a similar program in-place at the Salem campus — Rural Scholars. Rural Scholars was established in 2012.

“It’s a very very gratifying thing to be apart of,” said Michelle Adkins,  the Rural Scholars Program coordinator at Kent State Salem. “At the end of the day, just looking at these kids and hearing them get so excited when talking about the things they can can accomplish makes all the work worth it.”

Leanne Strawn, a Rural Scholars Program mentor and senior English major at the Salem campus, said that deciding to work for Rural Scholars in 2016 was one of the best decisions she made during her time with Kent State.

“I love the chance to be a part of scholars’ lives in my role as a mentor, and I have so enjoyed seeing how my students have become more comfortable with me the longer I have known them,” Strawn said. “I’m so excited that Rural Scholars is going to expand to the other Kent State campuses, and I can’t wait to see the impact it is going to have on first generation college students.”

Ellie Dundics is the regionals reporter. Contact her at [email protected]