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WVUs 2007 class of Foundation Scholars announced by Gov. Manchin

on Thu, 08/09/2007 - 08:00

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 Capitol.
 
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” items.
 
“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 fun center.
 
His parents are Chuck Bailey and Barbara LeGue, and he is the second student from Ripley High School to earn the Foundation Scholarship.
 
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 flood-damaged region.
 
“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 Tri-State Triathlon.
 
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 Foundation Scholarship.
 
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 her family.
 
“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 everyday.”
 
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 much television.
 
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 human brain.

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 diseases.
 
“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 it.”
 
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 inspiration.

“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 stranger.
 
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 Scholarship.

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