The Rural And Diverse Student Scholars Program At Mason

  • Rebecca Jones George Mason University
  • Rachel Cleaver George Mason University


The Rural and Diverse Student Scholars Program is a National Science Foundation supported initiative that began in 2016 to strategically attract and retain talented rural and diverse students into College of Science (COS) majors. Recruiting from rural populations has emerged as a way to encourage a wider range of political view and diversify the socioeconomic status of students on college campuses (Jaschik, 2018). Considering the social-ecological model developed by Bronfenbrenner (1979, 1986) and described by Howley et al. (2016), we aim to better understand how the ecosystem of rural students relates to their choice to enroll at Mason and persist in the College of Science. This framework provides a means of exploring the various personal and environmental factors that influence behavior. To that end, we explored and assessed recruitment strategies with the goal of maximizing participation in this program and enrollment in the College of Science.


The recruitment of the students into this program is a key research element because of the challenges that exist in reaching this population. We will also discuss the combination of academic and social supports that the program has put in place to help support these students who are otherwise considered to be at high risk of leaving these programs. Following the theme of the conference, this program aims to support the whole student from before their arrival on campus, through their enrollment in a summer bridge program, to regular sessions designed to build a community and support their academic development. Participants will learn about some of the characteristics of this unique student population and how they might better reach them. 

Author Biographies

Rebecca Jones, George Mason University

Rebecca M. Jones earned a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Cincinnati. She is the chemistry faculty member and an administrative leader in the STEM Accelerator, serving as PI for the NSF S-STEM funded Rural and Diverse Student Scholars Program, webmaster, and lead organizer for the College of Science Undergraduate Research Colloquium. She has also developed an implemented multiple resources to help students persist in STEM and move forward after graduation. Her research interests include improving STEM education, gender bias, and student development related to undergraduate research experiences. She is an active member of the American Chemical Society, regularly organizing symposia for national meetings and is also an elected chemistry councilor on the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Rachel Cleaver, George Mason University

Department of Admissions 

4:15pm-5:30pm POSTER SESSION (Group B- 4:45-5:15pm)