Scholarship support propels Rider junior toward dream career in education

As a Trustee Scholar, Jenna Dean earned one of the University's most competitive merit scholarships
Diane Cornell

As a future teacher, Jenna Dean will teach her students many things. But one thing we can learn from her now is that it is good to do your research. If she hadn’t, she may have ended up at a completely different college.

“I literally live three minutes from the college where my sister goes to school,” she says. “I always thought I would go to school there because it is so close to home and that’s where my sister went. But when I started the college hunt with my dad, I liked that Rider had small classes, and that whenever I visited, Dr. McKool always remembered my name, and everyone always answered all of my questions. Compared to the other school, I knew that at Rider I wasn’t going to get lost in the crowd.”

Dean’s diligence paid off. Named a Trustee Scholar, she received one of 10 full-tuition scholarships Rider awards each year to incoming freshman. The four-year merit scholarship, given to high-achieving students, is competitive and requires outstanding academic qualifications, an essay and an in-person interview. In 2018, the University dedicated a total of $75 million in institutional scholarship support.

“Jenna impressed us immediately because of her experiences and confidence. She is a role model for the kind of candidate that we are hoping to attract,” says Dr. Sharon McKool, who is chair of the Department of Teacher Education.

“My scholarship is a big reason why I am at Rider,” says Dean, who is part of the Baccalaureate Honors Program, a special experience for talented students offering opportunities to attend interdisciplinary seminars, conduct independent research and attend a variety of cultural and social events. “Looking around, I wanted a college that would give me a good education, but also one that I could afford.”

The junior, who is pursuing a bachelor's in elementary education with multiple concentrations that will allow her to teach at either the elementary or middle school level, likes that Rider encourages education students to participate in field experience during their sophomore year, rather than as a junior. She says the time she spent student teaching and observing in classrooms at two different elementary schools in Lawrenceville reinforced her decision to become a teacher and also provided great opportunities to build rapport with professionals in the field.

For now, she is excited to be embarking on a semester of study abroad in Australia but is quick to note that while her studies may lead her around the world, her future plans are back in New Jersey. Her goal after graduation is to return to her hometown of Washington Township in Gloucester County to teach English as a Second Language to elementary school students.