Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Rehabilitation and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Wood, Susannah M.

Second Advisor

Bardhoshi, Gerta

First Committee Member

Assouline, Susan G.

Second Committee Member

Duys, David K.

Third Committee Member

Smith, Carol K.


Though a primary purpose of K-12 education in the United States is to prepare students to meet the economic demands of the country, there is currently a major shortage of workers to fill the open positions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This shortage is only expected to grow in the coming decade unless a significant number of students choose to pursue STEM careers. Some authors have identified the approximately 1.5 million underserved rural, high-potential students as an untapped population representing future STEM workers. However, school counselors, who oversee most of the career development in K-12 education, currently lack a strong understanding of how to promote STEM college and career readiness with rural, gifted students.

This paper shares the results of a study that examined whether factors such as academic potential, personal traits, or social engagement have an impact on the early career development of gifted students from under-served rural schools. Particularly, the study examined whether a STEM extra-curricular program – STEM Excellence and Leadership – influenced the career development of the rural, gifted middle school student participants. Results indicate that perceived social engagement had the most significant impact on the career development of rural, gifted middle school students, and that the extra-curricular program was helpful in developing their career expectations and goals. The final section of this paper shares important lessons for practicing school counselors and school counseling preparation programs.


career development, gifted education, middle school, rural schools, school counseling, STEM education


xii, 204 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 178-204).


Copyright © 2018 Erin Megan Davidson Lane