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WVU launches program putting students from rural West Virginia on paths to success

A hilly field with long green grass, some trees, and some tall purple and white grass plants. The sky is cloudy.

The first cohort of Mountain Scholars, a program from the WVU Office of Student Success, is getting started this fall. Mountain Scholars is designed to help West Virginia students, especially those from rural areas like Pocahontas County (shown here), transition into college through their first year on campus. (WVU Photo/Shauna Johnson)

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Maintaining a sharp focus on the unique needs of rural, underrepresented West Virginia University students, the Office of Student Success welcomes its first cohort of Mountain Scholars this fall.

The Mountain Scholars Program is designed to create a culture of support for incoming first-year students from rural areas of West Virginia as they work toward academic success while also preparing them for jobs in the Mountain State.

“The program will help our in-state students transition to college life, build a sense of community and belonging and develop a deeper appreciation for their identity as West Virginians,” said Sarah Powell, Office of Student Success program coordinator and First-Year Seminar instructor.

“Retaining and preparing our underrepresented students to achieve success is critical to fulfilling WVU’s land-grant mission and, ultimately, we hope to inspire these talented students to stay in West Virginia after graduation and continue to invest in their local communities.”

The Office of Student Success has led this effort in alignment with the University’s academic transformation initiative to enhance student success by strengthening undergraduate advising, targeting success coaching to at-risk students and offering peer mentoring led by students from West Virginia.

“Providing peers mentors from West Virginia is an important part of this new retention effort,” said Brayden Hornsby, a senior accounting and marketing major from Summersville and student success peer mentor. “Connecting students with classmates who are around the same age and who have been through similar situations can make adjusting to college life easier and help new students find their community at WVU.” 

Another key component of the program is a dedicated section of a First-Year Seminar specifically designed to help students transition to WVU, and explore career pathways in West Virginia and the Appalachian region that match with their passions and interests. Students also have opportunities to attend regular events to supplement course content and help build social connections and a stronger academic community.

“The Office of Student Success is committed to increasing student success at WVU, with a keen focus on academically at-risk, first-generation and rural students, as well as our students of color and other diverse students,” Regan  Bruni, director of the Office of Student Success, said. “Our goal is to empower our students in underrepresented groups to succeed academically and personally, and eventually join an ever-changing workforce in West Virginia and beyond.”

The Office of Student Success, housed in the Center for Learning, Advising, and Student Success, also offers academic support through RISE WVU, FirstGen Initiatives and First-Year Pathways.



MEDIA CONTACT: Shauna Johnson 
Director of News Communications 
University Relations 

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