Glenn Morgan Parker '25 received a scholarship from Atkinson Rural Scholarship Initiative to attend Precollege as a high school student from Trumansburg. 

Atkinson Rural Scholarship Initiative gives local high schoolers a chance to attend Summer Precollege

Meet Precollege alumna Glenn Morgan Parker ’25, a 2020 recipient

Glenn Morgan Parker ’25 says one of the best things at about attending Cornell is working at the USDA Heck Lab where she helps prepare experiments for virology research.

“Not only has the lab work been amazing,” said Parker, “but the people are wonderful, making this hands-on work the best experience I’ve had at Cornell so far.”

Though she grew up only 13 miles away, she might not be at Cornell if not for the David R. and Patricia Atkinson Rural Scholarship Initiative, which offers 20 scholarships to high-achieving, low-income high school students from small towns near Ithaca to enable them to attend Cornell University Precollege Studies.

“I wouldn’t have attended the program without the scholarship,” said Parker. “It allowed me to participate without significant stress on my family's financial situation. It’s how I was able to have this entire experience.” 

This summer, between May 31 to August 2, high school students can take three- and six-week credit-bearing undergraduate classes on campus or online on topics in the arts, sciences, business, and more. The precollege program, part of Cornell’s School of Continuing Education (SCE), gives students a chance to experience college life, explore possible majors, prepare for college admissions, and make connections with students from all over the world.

“It’s a total pleasure to see Glenn thriving as a Cornell undergraduate,” said Precollege Studies director Jim Schechter. “Her success exemplifies how Cornell’s regional partnerships contribute to its dynamic student bodies, classrooms, and labs. It was obvious she had the talent and drive to realize her academic goals.” He explained that the scholarship is sponsored by David R. Atkinson ’60 and his wife, Patricia, who want rural youth to get the best education possible.

“Patricia and David Atkinson rightly focused our attention on jumpstarting rural, high school students’ college experience so they too gain the benefits of our world class university,” said Schechter. “We share their vision of talented, rural students using their college education as a way to realize their individual talents and enjoy economic mobility in coming years.”

Parker shared with us what it was like to take an online course as a Precollege student, thanks to the Atkinson scholarship, and how it helped prepare her for her first year at Cornell.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Precollege, Glenn. Where did you go to high school?

I attended Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg, New York. I graduated in June of 2021. 

How did you hear about the Atkinson scholarship?

I learned about the scholarship through a Q-and-A session led by James Schechter. He visited my school to speak to a group of my peers about summer studies at Cornell during my junior year. I applied through the SCE website and with the help of my school counselor. I was a rising senior when I attended Precollege.

You participated in Precollege during the height of the pandemic in 2020. It was the first time Precollege classes were held entirely online. In the past, all students took their summer course on campus. This summer is the first time both options will be offered. What course did you take? What was it like taking it online?

I took PSYCH 1990: Sport Psychology, with Dr. Mary Turner DePalma.

I would take my readings to a local park. When I was at home—I remember it was quite warm—I often worked with the window open. I had little sticky notes with thoughts and ideas stuck around my desk. Sometimes they would blow around my room if a breeze picked up. It was good to have my own space to take the class, even if it was a bit unconventional for the summer program. I suppose academia adapted to normalize online this during the pandemic, but at the time it was a new experience for me. 

I was immersed in a class which included both high school and college students. It introduced me to a heavier workload, which I hadn't had the chance to experience in the typical high school setting I was accustomed to. Lectures were thought provoking and challenging, for my younger mind. I always looked forward to class in anticipation of questions my professor would pose. My class wasn't as big as a lot of my classes were my first semester at Cornell, so that was nice, too.

What are you studying here at Cornell?

I am majoring in Biological Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. I think the Precollege course prepared me on what to expect from Cornell academics. I currently work in a USDA lab under my graduate student mentor focusing on virology projects. The research opportunity and lab experience has been incredibly valuable.

Did your Precollege experience factor into your decision to apply to Cornell for college?

I applied to Cornell for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I greatly enjoyed Precollege and found connecting through a professor in higher education incredibly rewarding.

Secondly, I was a student involved in a local research program focusing on life sciences called New Visions run though Cornell and TST BOCES. The program helped me realize I desired experience working in the field of scientific research and Cornell, being a land-grant university with many opportunities, was the perfect environment to pursue research in addition to higher education. 

What advice would you give to students interested in taking an online course with Precollege?

As difficult as it may be, I recommend doing all your homework work as soon as possible since the courses are very fast paced. Always communicate with your professor and connect with them. Finally, look for a change of scenery—going outside to do my work instead of staying shut in my room often got me through long passages of reading. 

Any final thoughts on the Atkinson scholarship?

It was incredible getting news of the scholarship. Precollege was very new to me, so I didn't quite understand the magnitude of it until I looked at all the program offered beyond just the class I wanted to take. I was a huge deal to me. I am incredibly thankful. 

Cornell’s Precollege Studies application is now open for our residential summer program and online courses.

The deadline to apply for the residential program and the first three-week session is May 6. See all application deadlines here.

This story appears in SCE news

Shelley Preston is the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions’ communications and marketing specialist.

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