“Having a mother who completed college online while I was in middle school greatly impacted how I view the immense value of education and the on-campus experience. Being from an under-resourced rural community, I don't think I would've been motivated to apply to a place like Princeton if I didn't have her example. I’ve since had so many opportunities to meet new people and learn about new cultures, as well as tell stories about my own rural upbringing, raising pheasants and turkeys, training hunting dogs, and hunting in South Central Pennsylvania. A lot of the work I've done at Princeton focuses on education access and policy as it relates to rural communities.
Both within and outside academics, I am working to make the possibilities education offers more accessible for rural students like me. For the past three years, I’ve co-directed an annual book drive in my rural hometown with Kelton Chastulik '21, and in those three years, we have donated close to 20,000 books to about 20 organizations in our home community."Madison Mellinger ’23
I’ve also had the opportunity, through the Pace Center for Civic Engagement's Nancy Weiss Malkiel Fellowship, to organize a conference for rural college students across the country, “Small Town to Campus.” This event, which took place in early February of this year, brought together nearly 100 students, scholarship directors, and admissions officers to network and brainstorm how to better support rural students. When a student from a rural community gets to a place like Princeton, how do they navigate this space that's so different from home? When I first got to Princeton, I was very surprised by some of the experiences my urban and suburban peers had — alumni group get-togethers before they even got to campus and having peers from their school who were also going to Princeton. How can we make these experiences possible for rural students? As I near graduation I’m keeping an open mind about potential careers in hopes of nurturing my relationship with home."