Rural Students Alliance

Plunging into the unfamiliar environment of an urban university like Yale is difficult, but especially for students from small towns and rural backgrounds. Created by Education Studies Scholar Jared Michaud (‘19) in the Fall of 2018, the Rural Students Alliance brings together students from small towns to help them build community and navigate Yale. The current President of the Rural Students Alliance, Clayton Land (‘22), says the group started as a casual dinner in Davenport College. Over the past year, they’ve switched to Zoom dinners, but the group is still going strong.
In addition to dinners, the Rural Students Alliance holds community-bonding activities, including hikes, pumpkin carving, and a trip to the farmer’s market. They conduct outreach and partnerships with other organizations, like the Native American Cultural Center, and facilitate community conversations about intersecting rural issues. One such conversation discussed the intersection of queer and rural identities.
“The biggest importance is finding other students that are from small towns, and talking to them about their own transition process,” Clayton says. He adds that broader issues of rural education in the U.S. contribute to shared challenges at Yale. Two pieces published in the Yale Daily News—“The rural class” by McKinsey Crozier (‘22), and “Rural and remote: Challenges of enrolled rural students” by Holly Sexton (‘24)—discuss some of the unique challenges rural students face.
“Rural high schools are underfunded. For a lot of rural students coming to Yale, the transition process is really rough. So we act as a network for rural students to find each other, to know other students who’ve gone through the process, and to learn how to use Yale’s resources.” 
“And,” Clayton adds, “we create a space for people to feel comfortable.”