Campus News Georgia Impact

New UGA scholarship and program serves rural students

The ALL Georgia program will aid students in their transitions from rural home communities to Athens and a busy campus life. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

The University of Georgia has introduced a new scholarship for exceptional students from rural Georgia as part of a new ALL Georgia program.

Part of President Jere W. Morehead’s strategic initiatives, the ALL Georgia scholarship provides financial aid for six outstanding students matriculating to UGA from rural Georgia each year. The scholarship is renewable for up to eight semesters and is part of the ALL Georgia Program, which supports all students from counties classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as predominantly rural and who may or may not have financial need with a network of resources through partnerships with a variety of departments across campus. Some 3,700 students are eligible for the ALL Georgia program network.

“Our data show that students hailing from rural areas of Georgia face different challenges as they transition to the university,” said Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav. “The ALL Georgia Program supports students from rural Georgia and ensures that they have the same opportunities for success at UGA as their peers.”

Through the ALL Georgia program, the Division of Academic Enhancement, the Division of Student Affairs and Public Service and Outreach, among other offices, collaborate to promote common experiences, such as Freshman College Summer Experience, Dawg Camp and Scholar Success Days, for rural students.

“We are excited to bring together this network of resources from across campus to support these exceptional students,” said Victor Wilson, vice president for student affairs. “Immersive experiences like Dawg Camp and Freshman College help students make meaningful, lasting connections and aid in their transitions from rural home communities to Athens and campus life.”

That transition can be challenging. As a result, rural students have lower four-year graduation rates and are more likely to withdraw from college than their peers.

“The goal is to help keep students from rural areas on track by cultivating a sense of belonging,” said T. Chase Hagood, director of the Division of Academic Enhancement. “Even as our students are academically well-prepared, the culture, language and expectations of higher education can present unanticipated challenges. We want to make sure that all students understand that the University of Georgia wants to see them be successful from their very first day to graduation.”

ALL Georgia Scholar Elizabeth Floyd on the UGA campus. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

For many, like ALL Georgia Scholarship recipient Elizabeth Floyd, the transition to Athens living can bring obstacles.

“Where I grew up, I was in a class of 52 people, so I knew everyone,” said Floyd, who comes from Alamo, Georgia, located 80 miles north of Waycross. “Here, I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone and met new people, people from backgrounds I’ve never come into contact with before.”

Floyd, who plans to major in business management, is currently enrolled in one of the program’s cohort-based scholar success seminars, which feature small class sizes and group discussions on topics such as research-based study strategies.

Undergraduate student Alex Huskey is an ALL Georgia Scholar. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Fellow ALL Georgia Scholar Alex Huskey expected Athens to be different from his hometown of Summerville, Georgia, located 25 miles northeast of Rome. Fewer than 5,000 people call Summerville home. That is less than the number of first-year students enrolled at UGA. The scholarship and program have been key in helping Huskey acclimate to campus.

“The scholarship program definitely connects you with resources and lets you know about them and makes you more comfortable with them, knowing where you should go if you need help with tutoring and things like that,” he said.

For both Floyd and Huskey, the scholarship money helped bridge the gap between the dream of attending UGA and actually getting to the university.

“This is my dream school and has been since I was younger,” Floyd said. “If it wasn’t for the scholarships, I wouldn’t be here.”