Rural Broadband Access: A Panel Discussion with Lead for America Fellows


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The Rural College Student Experience is back with another special episode. In Episode 11, host Dr. Matt Newlin is joined by an incredible panel of Lead for America fellows who are serving in rural Kentucky and Appalachia. Lead for America fellows are dedicated to tackling the critical challenges facing the places they call home. All three of our panelists are doing wonderful things to increase postsecondary and economic success for students in communities that have, historically, not received the support or attention they need and deserve. In this episode, we specifically address the broadband internet gap that exists in many rural communities and how this negatively affects students’ postsecondary choices or opportunities.

These three fellows are amazing individuals who are clearly passionate about serving in rural spaces. Conner Thomas grew up in Morehead, Kentucky and attended the University of Kentucky where he double majored in Finance and Economics, graduating Magna cum Laude in 2021. Sierra Marling grew up in Clay, West Virginia. She attended Berea College and studied Communication as a first generation student and a single mom, then took it a step further and received her Master’s degree from Syracuse University in 2018. Rhea Carter is from Knox County, Kentucky and is a first-generation graduate of Berea College. She majored in Communication with a double minor in Appalachian Studies and Peace and Social Justice Studies.

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