MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The students in the 2016 class of Bucklew Scholars are all tireless workers, curious explorers and analytical thinkers, bound by a love of their home state and a fierce determination to make a difference in the world in which they live.
For this group of exceptional scholars, the decision to come to West Virginia University to start their journey as the next generation of researchers, economists, politicians, pediatricians, veterinarians and engineers didn’t take a second thought.
The high school seniors selected for the scholarship are proudly growing wings in the place where they planted their roots. They will be staying in their home state to take advantage of the opportunities for growth, research and individualized attention offered by their flagship institution.
“This class of Bucklew Scholars is truly something special,” President Gordon Gee said. “They are West Virginia’s best and brightest; they are America’s future leaders and innovators. I have every confidence that this group of talented, committed and thoughtful scholars will change the world. I welcome them to West Virginia University and cannot wait to have them on campus as part of our Mountaineer family.”
Some students were drawn by the prospect of expanding their horizons, both personally and professionally. Roark Sizemore, of Morgantown High School, was particularly interested in WVU because of its new John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics – a place, he says, that abounds with connections and internship opportunities.
Dominic Campeti, a John Marshall High student, had the same inclination.
“I think one valuable thing WVU offers is relationships with businesses to get internships or co-ops,” Campeti said. “I think that’s important going into a career, to have job experience of one kind or another.”
Rachel Rogers, of Notre Dame High School, found WVU’s location to give her the chance to compete for the high-level work experiences she desires. Rogers, who will studyeconomics, plans to take advantage of Morgantown’s proximity to big cities to allow her to find a meaningful internship.
But some students are looking to go even farther from home for those experiences: Study abroad programs were a consistent draw for this year’s Scholars.
Many showed an interest as result of familial connections and inspirations. Aspiring physician David Laub of Martinsburg High School said that both of his parents grew up in Germany, which inspires him to explore the country himself. Elizabeth Satterfield, a history major from Trinity Christian High School, was researching her genealogy when she discovered a long line of ancestors from Wales, giving her destination of desire great significance.
Terezia Galikova and Alexa Harris, both Morgantown High School students, felt study abroad would be a great way to explore their personal interests. Galikova, a biologyand philosophy major, plans to head to New Zealand to learn about mental health. Harris, considering a minor in Spanish, is excited for the possibility of visiting a native speaking country.
Dalton Minger a student from Brooke High School, hopes to stay right here in his home among the hills. He aspires to be a mathematics professor at WVU one day, and knows WVU – a place that feels like home to him – is where he needs to be to transform his dreams into reality.
And Minger wasn’t the only one excited to be staying in Morgantown. Many of these elite students cited WVU’s personalized attention and community feeling as the driving factor behind their college choice.
Teresa Hoang of Cabell Midland High School, Arlie ‘Britt’ Dolly of Hampshire High School and Morgan Zopp from Brooke High School considered other schools, but whenWVU came knocking and went out of their way to connect themm to campus and the boundless opportunities that await them as Mountaineers, they knew they’d found their home.
“I’m the first of my family to go to college,” Zopp said. “I had no idea about what I should do in the application process, and WVU made it smooth. They gave me information, invited me to events and web seminars, and just made the process a lot easier for me.”
Herbert Hoover’s Hayden Nichols and Ripley High School’s Travis Rawson loved what the WVU community meant.
“West Virginia University represents the state where I’ve grown up,” Rawson said. “And they treat you nicely here. Everyone, all the faculty members, they knew me by name. It makes you feel like part of the family.”
That family feel of the WVU community spoke volumes to five Bucklew scholars. Amna Haque from Bridgeport High School, Nolan Holley of Ripley High School, Delana McCoy of Ravenswood High School, Alan Parsons of St. Albans High School and Sarah Snider from Parkersburg High School were ready to be Mountaineers – from the start – it was always WVU or bust.
For three of these scholars, their programs of choice were a large part of the appeal, with well recognized schools of engineering, pharmacy and animal and nutritional sciences driving their decisions.
But for Alan Parsons and Amna Haque, WVU has simply always felt like home.
“I could never picture myself anywhere else,” Haque said. “Growing up watching Mountaineer sports events, I said ‘I want to be one of those students in the student section.’ Then when I researched the academic programs and found out how exceptional they are, I had no need to apply anywhere else.”
Caroline Leadmon, of Hurricane High School, echoed those sentiments.
“The campus has a soul. It really does,” Leadmon said. “When I drive into Morgantown I get excited. I’m coming home!”
The esteemed Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship is valued at $32,000 and provides students with more than $8,000 per year toward educational costs during four years at WVU and is able to be used in addition to the state’s PROMISE Scholarship.
Neil S. Bucklew, for whom the scholarship is named, served as WVU’s 20th president from 1986 to 1995. The scholarships are part of the University’s comprehensive awards program and are supported, in part, by the WVU Foundation, the private non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.
“On behalf of our team at the WVU Foundation, I want to congratulate this year’s Bucklew Scholarship recipients,” said B.J. Davisson, Foundation senior vice president of development and chief development officer. “We welcome you to the WVU family. You are an elite group with so many exciting opportunities that lie ahead. The WVUFoundation, through the generosity of thousands of donors, is pleased to play a part by providing private funding for these scholarships.”
These students are now eligible for WVU’s top academic award, the Foundation Scholarship, which is awarded to five of the Bucklew Scholars. The Foundation Scholars will be announced May 17.