|A select group
of West Virginia's brightest high-school students has been awarded West
Virginia University's most prestigious academic honor - the Foundation
Scholarship. The award recognizes the students' academic achievements
and leadership potential and provides a full scholarship to attend the
University for four years.
The five scholars were introduced by Gov. Joe
Manchin, WVU President David C. Hardesty, Jr. and Chairman of the Board
and Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of the WVU Foundation
David Hamstead during a Wednesday (May 16) ceremony at the State
The Foundation Scholarship, valued in excess of
$55,000, provides tuition and fees, room and board, personal expenses
and books for four years. As a part of the scholarship the students
will receive a $3,500 stipend for academic enhancement, which is
commonly used for academic internships, international travel and other
advanced learning opportunities.
The members of WVU's 2007 class of Foundation Scholars are: Jason Bailey of Ripley, Jackson County; Lea Bridi of Beckley, Raleigh County; Kristine (Ann) Bybee-Finley of Hurricane, Putnam County; Louie Olive of Williamson, Mingo County; Marissa Statler of Core, Monongalia County.
“WVU's Foundation Scholars demonstrate incredible
academic ability, tireless commitment to community service and proven
leadership ability,” Hardesty said. “We are proud to welcome them into
the WVU learning community, which challenges them, opens their minds to
new ideas and helps them fulfill their dreams.”
Manchin applauded the five scholars for their achievements and promise with the University.
“As the governor of West Virginia and a proud WVU
alumnus, I am pleased to call these students Mountaineers,” Manchin
said. “This new class of Foundation Scholars will, no doubt, continue
the University's legacy of turning out graduates who have attained
national and international prominence in their fields.”
He further challenged them to utilize the resources provided to them as a result of the Foundation Scholarship.
“I wish these young men and women well during
their undergraduate years at one of the nation's top national
land-grant universities. Take advantage of all that WVU offers from
studying abroad to conducting research with some of the leading faculty
members anywhere. And I hope to see you again in four years ready to
take on the world.”
Hamstead added, “The WVU Foundation is proud to
be a participant in this distinctive scholarship program, which helps
to keep the brightest students in their home state. Raising funds for
scholarships is a principle part of the Foundation's mission. We
believe that our donors' investment in students is, indeed, an
investment in the future of our state and nation.”
WVU scholarship programs distribute more than $5
million dollars and benefit more than 3,500 students each year. The
Foundation Scholarship is the premiere award of those programs. Since
it's creation in 1987, the Foundation Scholarship has been awarded to
105 of the state's most academically talented students.
Foundation Scholars are chosen from among the
pool of 20 students that receive the Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship. After
receiving recognition for winning the Bucklew Scholarship, the students
participate in intensive interview sessions, from which five are
awarded the Foundation Scholarship. The students must posses a minimum
3.8 grade- point average and achieve a composite score of 30 on the ACT
or 1,340 on the SAT college entrance exams.
Profiles on WVU's 2007 class of Foundation Scholars follow:
Jason Bailey, of
Ripley, a senior at Ripley High School, will soon fulfill his dream to
study in Europe and develop his interests in international affairs,
business and economics as a result of earning a Foundation Scholarship.
Bailey said he decided to attend WVU – primarily
because of its outstanding academic reputation and the opportunity to
participate in the Study Abroad program.
While at the University, he plans to major in
international studies with the ultimate goal of working in Italy or
Spain in international diplomacy or as an ambassador. He plans to use
his academic stipend to live abroad and further his studies and
experience in the field.
He attributes his interest in the field to
serving as a student ambassador in the People to People program – an
international program that focuses on educational experiences for
students and professionals.
“I have prepared for this major through my
rigorous academic schedule in high school, including courses in United
States government, politics and Spanish, extensive travel as a student
ambassador throughout Europe and Australia, and exploring my broad
sense of interest in international affairs,” he said.
His hard work during high school has resulted in
numerous recognitions, including a position on the National Honor Roll,
Advanced Placement (AP) Rising Scholar and serving as president of the
Ripley High School National Honor Society. He has also earned his
school's Carlos Hidalgo Award for Outstanding Math Student.
Bailey is also a member of his school's Varsity
Academic Team, which recently came in second place in the AAA state
tournaments and will travel to Texas to represent W.Va. in the
nationals in June
Bailey is excited about the many opportunities to
participate in clubs, student organizations and athletics at WVU. He
has played tennis for six years and has been the captain of his high
school tennis team for the past two years. He hopes to get involved in
intramural tennis at WVU.
In addition, Bailey – an accomplished trumpet
player – has been the featured soloist in his high school band and has
been accepted into “The Pride of West Virginia,” WVU's marching band.
He has already performed with the WVU Honors Band, All-Area Band and
his school's marching, concert and jazz bands.
In addition to trumpet, Bailey sings in the
Concert and Chamber choirs and has performed in the All-State Chamber
Choir, All-State Chorus and the West Virginia American Choral
Director's Association All-State Middle School/Junior High Honor Choir.
As president of his church youth group, he
coordinates the annual Adopt-A-Family dinner that matches church
families with families in need to provide necessities and “wish list”
“I gain a sense of accomplishment through the
numerous smiles and tears I witness from the families,” Bailey said of
the project. “Not only does this (program) help my community of Ripley,
but also many of the families have children with whom I attend school.”
He has also volunteered with Big Brother/Big
Sister, Relay for Life, the Jackson County Charity Challenge and his
high school's campus cleanup,
When just hanging out with friends, you might
find Bailey jamming to the “Guitar Hero” video game, screening the
latest James Bond movie or racing the Grand Prix go-karts at the local
His parents are Chuck Bailey and Barbara LeGue,
and he is the second student from Ripley High School to earn the
Lea Bridi of Beckley
will graduate first in her class from Woodrow Wilson High School. She
plans to enter WVU's Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism and major
in the news editorial sequence. She looks forward to completing an
internship and someday writing for a major newspaper or magazine.
“The possibility of receiving an internship at a
major publication as a WVU student seems very real,” Bridi said. “And
the experience of actually participating in the production of such a
publication, even as an intern, would be an invaluable way to launch
myself into the world of prominent journalism.”
Bridi has gained experience serving as the
editor-in-chief for her high school newspaper and also hopes to write
for The Daily Athenaeum – WVU's award-winning student newspaper.
Her academic efforts have paid off with several
awards. She has been named to Who's Who Among American High School
Students for four years, is a member of her high school National Honor
Society and received the “Top-Of-The-Nest Award” for finishing in the
top tier of her class. She was also named Junior Class Marshall and
garnered several academic subject awards in language, math and science.
In July of 2005, Bridi participated in flood
relief efforts in the Mullens area, and considers those actions her
most important community service activity. She and other volunteers
worked on the Mullens Opportunity Center – a converted elementary
school used to house community programs. They picked up debris and
cleaned the site. The team also helped repair several homes in the
“The importance of this activity for the
residents of Mullens did not lie in the completion of the tasks
themselves – this work barely made a dent in the flood devastation,”
Bridi said. “The true impact of our visit came from showing that we
believed that a difference concerning their plight could be made, and
that it was worth our time and theirs to attempt to improve the state
of their community.”
Bridi is also active in her church, helping in the nursery and assisting with children's church.
Not limited to academics, she is also active in
several sports including tennis, swimming and track. She also lettered
for four years in tennis and cross-country and served as captain of the
cross-country team. Most recently, she won her age division in the
When asked to describe herself, Bridi said she was “hard-working, unique and determined.”
She explained, “I'm hard working because I
compete in varsity sports, and I do well in school. I'm unique because
I really don't follow trends, and I'm determined because I believe you
don't have to be really talented to do well in life - just work hard
and be who you want to be. If you decide you want to do something, you
can do it if you're willing to put enough time into it.”
Bridi said earning the Foundation Scholarship
rewards her hard work and provides “a nice ending for high school and a
great beginning for college.”
Her parents are John and Diane Bridi, and she is
the first student from Woodrow Wilson High School to earn the
Kristine (Ann) Bybee-Finley, of
Hurricane, a senior at Hurricane High School, hopes to one day work for
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop effective
cures for diseases caused by poverty or war in third world countries.
She will pursue that dream by majoring in biochemistry at WVU and
focusing on research opportunities as they pertain to human anatomy.
“My main interest lies in creating more effective
ways to treat disease set on by poverty such as malaria, smallpox or
polio with their cures prevented by conflict,” she said. “These
illnesses have been wiped out in all but third-world countries. They
should have been eradicated, but the supplies have not been sustainable
or the situations that surround them have been too dire.”
Bybee-Finley said becoming a Foundation Scholar
and attending WVU is a “tremendous and prestigious honor” for her and
“I am looking forward to coming in contact with esteemed professors and upperclassmen that will lend their advice,” she said.
Participating in research internships and being
involved in active lab facilities are among the most important reasons
she chose WVU, Bybee-Finley explained.
Her dedicated studies have paid off with
recognition in National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor
society and as an AP Rising Scholar. She attended the Governor's Honors
Academy and was awarded a full scholarship to attend a Science
Technology Engineering Mathematics camp.
Bybee-Finley was also a top 5 finalist in the AAA
Geography Challenge and received her school's Academic Achievement
Award with a 4.0 grade-point average over four years.
She spent six weeks in Australia as a Lion's Club
exchange student and has been active in 4-H for 10 years. She enjoys
spending time volunteering at nearby Camp Virgil Tate, especially
during a summer camp for children with special needs.
“I will never forget the year I took a boy with
an attachment disorder under my wing. The whole week we swam, ate and
sat at the campfire together,” she said. “On the last day, I received a
note from the boy's mother - who had adopted three other children with
special needs - thanking me for helping him out the entire week. I
could only be modest imagining the struggles she must go through
Her numerous extracurricular activities include
being active with the Saint Francis Medical Explorers, Future
Scientists, Engineers of America and the Young Democrats of America.
She also played softball in the Hurricane
Softball League, was a member of the Ultimate Frisbee Club and
participated in the YMCA racquetball league.
In her spare time you might find her reading a
science fiction or Jane Austen book, but you won't catch her watching
Bybee-Finley describes herself as “compassionate, clever and the most ambitious person she knows.”
She expressed admiration for her friend, Claire,
and her spirit and determination. Bybee-Finley indicated that while
others talk about participating in activities, Claire is all action,
faces the world with an optimistic view and tries to improve it.
Her parents are Howard Finley and Kristine
Bybee-Finley, and she is the first student from Hurricane High School
to earn the Foundation Scholarship.
Louie Olive, of
Williamson, a senior at Williamson High School, plans to attend WVU to
pursue a degree in biology and attend medical school. He wishes to one
day become a psychiatrist or neurologist because of his interest in the
His ultimate goal is to work towards the
elimination of Alzheimer's disease. After losing his grandmother to the
disease, he decided he would like to perform undergraduate medical
research in the hopes of finding treatments for degenerative mental
“Although it is too late for my grandmother, it
is not too late for the rest of my family or the rest of the world who
could potentially have this disease or others like it,” he said. “I
believe this is one of the worst diseases in the world and that more
research needs to be done into treatments and possible elimination of
He has decided on a track at WVU that involves
both his undergraduate and graduate studies, indicating he likes the
ability to go straight into medical school on the same campus as his
undergraduate studies. In addition, he enjoys the atmosphere and
friendly people in Morgantown.
During high school, Olive participated in Math
Field Day, the Governor's Honors Academy, Student Council, Mountaineer
Boy's State, the Southern West Virginia Coal Fair and Johns Hopkins
Center for Talented Youth.
He also expanded his education by taking several
advanced placement courses in micro and macro-economics, literature,
government and language composition.
Olive has volunteered with the Read Aloud program
at Riverside Elementary, and feels it is among his most important
community service activities. The program involves high school students
traveling to local elementary schools to read books to younger children
and engage them in activities to promote good reading habits. Olive
feels that, much like younger children look up to star athletes, they
can also admire older students in the program and develop and
appreciation of reading that will benefit them during their lives.
“When I see the fire light up in a
second-grader's eyes as I read a book I grew up loving, I know that I
have instilled a love of reading in him that will benefit his academic
career for as long as he continues to learn,” he said. “As I have also
been on the listening end of Read Aloud when I was in grade school, I
know how exciting it is for the children.”
Olive has also volunteered with Special Olympics, Kiwanis and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
He also plays on his school's golf team and is
the captain of the tennis team. He likes the fact that he can blend
academic achievements with sports success.
He has been an active member of 4-H and Boy Scouts of America, earning the rank of Eagle Scout.
Olive said earning the Foundation Scholarship means a great deal to him.
“This justifies all the years of studying and not
going out with friends as much as I could have,” he said. “It means a
lot – especially to my dad.”
His parents are Sam and Janice Olive. He is the second student from Williamson High School to earn the Foundation Scholarship.
Marissa Statler, of
Core, a senior at Clay-Battelle High School, will study broadcast news
at WVU and plans to attend law school. Once she earns her degrees, she
would like to use her diverse background to be a consultant for
television news channels – providing background information and
conversation on current issues.
As a Foundation Scholar she is looking forward to taking advantage of opportunities to study abroad while at the University.
“The money provided by the study
abroad/educational enhancement stipend would allow me to further my
horizons and seize a lifelong dream of experiencing the world by
spending a summer continuing my education overseas,” she said. “It is
very pertinent to the fields of broadcasting and journalism, my
intended majors, to obtain a complete grasp on international
connections and relations,” she added. “By studying abroad, I would
have the opportunity to forge those associations and further my
understanding of global politics and international diplomacy.”
Statler was active in high school participating
as treasurer and president of Student Council, captain of the varsity
cheerleading team, and captain of the hurdle team for varsity track.
She also served as vice president of the French Club and founded a
school Pep Club.
She also dances with the Performing Arts Academy on the competition dance team and was named Miss Clay District Fair in 2006.
While attending WVU, she hopes to get involved in
the Student Government Association, community-service organizations and
the Mountaineer Maniacs because of her love for athletics.
Her numerous honors include: National Honor
Society, a Young Writers award, Who's Who Among American High School
students, Who's Who Among High School Students Athletes Edition, U.S.
Achievement Academy and the National Honor Roll. She has also
participated in the Governor's Honors Academy, Math Field Day and
Rhododendron Girls State.
She was touched by an experience she had while
volunteering with the Make-A-Wish-Foundation to grant the wish – a trip
to Disney World – of Megan, a young cancer patient. The entire student
body at Clay-Battelle High pulled together to raise funds through bake
sales, hat days and other activities. Though they were able to help
support Megan's dream trip to Disneyworld, Statler was saddened to
learn of Megan's eventual passing. She feels the experience was an
“Megan was a young girl that lived only a short
amount of time, but she created memories that will continue to light
the world for generations to come,” she said. “Her life showed me the
power that one person can have to make a difference in the world. I
hope that I can continue to use that power to have a positive influence
on all the people in my life.”
Statler would define herself as outgoing because
she enjoys being involved, determined, because she gives 100 percent
and expects the best, and loquacious, because she has never met a
She said earning the Foundation Scholarship is
important to her for two reasons: easing the financial burden of
college from her parents…and giving something back to them for all that
they have done for her.
Her parents are Joseph and Louie Statler, and she
is the third student from Clay-Battelle High to earn the Foundation
WVU Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Office: (304) 293-4126