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Rural Discovery Scholars Program

Program Overview

The Rural Discovery Scholars program provides four-year scholarships for students from rural school districts majoring in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, environmental science, materials science, or molecular biology. The goal of the program is to prepare students for the STEM workforce while reducing their debt from attending college.


Benefits of the Rural Discovery Scholars Program

Each Rural Discovery Scholar will receive:

  1. four years of a Rural Discovery Scholarship that can be applied toward tuition, room and board.
  2. a College-issued laptop computer for use during all four years the Scholar is in the program.
  3. dedicated peer-mentoring and peer tutoring designed to help the Scholars excel in their transition to College.
  4. a faculty mentor who will work closely with the Scholar to help them achieve success in College.
  5. an alumni mentor who will serve as a role model and mentor for success in the STEM workforce.


The Rural Discovery Scholars will all live on the same floor of one of the dormitories in an integrated living-learning community. Additionally, the Rural Discovery Scholars will participate in an annual Transitions to Careers workshop that will help the Scholars decide and pursue their chosen career path.


Program Requirements

  1. Scholars must major in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, environmental science, materials science, or molecular biology for all four years in the program.
  2. Scholars must maintain a 3.0 All-College GPA while in the program.
  3. Rural Discovery Scholarships are only available to students who are from a rural school district and have demonstrated financial need. Preference will be given to first-generation college students.
  4. Rural Discovery Scholarships are only available for students pursuing careers in the STEM workforce or attending graduate school in a STEM field. Students interested in careers in medicine, health-related fields, or secondary education are NOT eligible.
  5. Scholars must participate in the required activities of the program.


Selection Process

Prospective Rural Discovery Scholars must complete an application consisting of: (1) a completed FAFSA form indicating financial need; (2) personal statement answers to four short essay questions; (3) one letter of recommendation from a science teacher, guidance counselor, or mentor; (4) high school transcripts indicating a minimum GPA of 3.3. Strong applicants will be invited to interview with the selection committee.


Application Submission

Interested students should apply for admission to Westminster College. Essays and Letters of Recommendation should be emailed to

Contact Dr. Pete Smith at 724-946-7299 or if you have any questions about the Rural Discovery Scholars program including eligibility.