Talented students from rural communities belong at Washington University 

The Heartland Initiative admissions program is dedicated to serving students from rural and small-town communities throughout Missouri and southern Illinois.

Alumna gift will help recruit rural students

The Heartland Initiative is funded through the generous support of Washington University in St. Louis alumna and Emerita Trustee Joyce Buchheit and her husband, Chauncy Buchheit.

Meet Dacoda & Phil

Through this initiative, two dedicated Admissions Officers will be engaged in outreach programs for high school students, counselors, principals, and community members. Dacoda Scarlett and Phil Layfield will be visiting rural and small-town school districts, as well as college fairs, throughout Missouri and southern Illinois to help students learn more about preparing for college and the opportunities available at WashU.

Dacoda Scarlett

Associate Director
Represents students in Illinois (outside of Chicagoland), and Missouri (Eastern Missouri, excluding St. Charles County, and St. Louis County north of I-64/US 40)

Phil Layfield

Assistant Director
Represents students in Missouri (Western and Southern Missouri)

WashU Rural Scholars Academy

The Heartland Initiative includes a weeklong pre-college program for rising high school juniors designed to introduce them to WashU, the college application process, and the greater St. Louis community. The all-expenses-paid program will be hosted on WashU’s campus. All food, housing, and activities will be provided free of charge. 

My time at WashU has been great! I have discovered what I love to study and found a place to call home!

Annie Y., Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

WashU Pledge

The WashU Pledge provides a free undergraduate education to admitted students from Missouri and southern Illinois who are from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less.