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$1M scholarship gift aids education majors at West Virginia University

Suzanne Walker Rogers Weber

Suzanne Walker Rogers Weber

Future teachers training at West Virginia University will benefit from a $1 million scholarship gift made in memory of a dedicated educator and devoted WVU alumna.

The Suzanne Walker Rogers Weber Endowed Education Scholarship will be awarded to first-generation undergraduate students from West Virginia. Recipients must be pursuing a degree in education and demonstrate financial need.

“We are always grateful for the support of donors who understand the unique challenges faced by future educators,” Tracy Morris, dean of WVU’s College of Education and Human Services, said. “This endowment will make a difference in the academic careers of future teachers for years to come, and we look forward to seeing its impact on our students.”

Sisters Elizabeth Rogers Bald and Jennifer Rogers Denham established the scholarship to pay tribute to their mother, who passed away Sept. 1, 2016, at the age of 76. She died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease or simply ALS.

Walker Rogers Weber was a South Charleston native who earned her bachelor’s degree in education from WVU in 1962. She was a first-generation college graduate, along with her two brothers, who cherished her time at WVU and the lasting friendships she made as a member and one-time president of Pi Beta Phi sorority.

She also appreciated how WVU prepared her for a fulfilling career educating children. Walker Rogers Weber confidently juggled a classroom of 30 first graders in Columbus, Ohio, following graduation and went on to teach preschool, run a nursery school and oversee Head Start programs for a Cleveland-area school district.

“Teaching young people was her passion,” Bald said. “By establishing this scholarship, we hope this supports and inspires the next generation of teachers, while honoring our mother and all that she accomplished in her lifetime.”

The scholarship also reflects the giving spirit of its namesake. Denham said their mother was “very selfless and always thinking of others.” For instance, after their father died at a young age, she recalled that their mother channeled her grief by connecting with an older woman in their community via an adopt-a-family program. Later in life, Walker Rogers Weber and her husband of 30 years, Robert Weber, made regular contributions to WVU and Kent State University, his alma mater.

“We feel like our mom was an angel when she was on this earth,” Bald said. “I am confident that this would give her a sense of happiness and accomplishment to know that, year after year, there will be new teachers graduating from WVU because of a scholarship established in her memory.”

Bald and Denham noted that they were fortunate not to worry about the cost of tuition when they attended college. They hope to alleviate that stress for others and eliminate any financial barriers that might prevent prospective teachers from proceeding with their education – particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sisters’ scholarship gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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