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Marleah Knights '23
Earning the Foundation Scholarship gave Morgantown W,Va. resident Marleah Knights the chance to explore a variety of interests.
A daughter of two West Virginia University professors, Knights lived the life of a campus resident long before her college years. A student in the Class of 2023, she ultimately chose to attend her town’s university because of the inclusivity she received.
“WVU has always felt like home, but then when I was a student—it wasn’t any different.”
Knights was one five West Virginia residents to receive the prestigious Foundation Scholarship in 2019. The scholarship is the highest level of academic recognition at WVU, and—when paired with the state’s PROMISE Scholarship—is valued at more than $95,000 over four years.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve as a student leader on campus with the platform that being a Foundation Scholar has given me,” Knights said. “With the financial support I’ve received, I’ve been able to dedicate myself to my education, volunteering, and extra-curricular activities.”
Knights is pursuing a double major in Biology and English. She hopes utilize her biology major while attending medical school in the future. She said majoring in English was a way to continue pursuing her passion for expressing herself through the written word.
“Studying English, for me, is more of a passion project than it is about the academics,” Knights said. “It’s just very meaningful to me.”
Her passion for biology will take her into the Research Apprenticeship Program this year, which gives her the opportunity to pursue biological research alongside a WVU faculty member. She decided to attempt the RAP program after volunteering in the laboratory during the Spring 2020 semester.
She also had plans to study abroad in Europe this year, and still has hopes to travel whenever it is safe to do so.
Knights is heavily involved in a variety of student organizations across campus, including the Student Government Association and the Honors Hall Council. As a 2nd-year undergraduate student, she’s already serving as a teaching assistant for the honors and biology orientation courses.
She currently serves on the Students of Color and Leadership Task Force. She also serves as both an Honors Student Ambassador and a Presidential Student Ambassador, which gives her a platform to exemplify the university’s values and make a positive impact on her peers.
“I work to be a leader and a mentor—sort of an older sister to students who are in need of that support."
Knights said that WVU has allowed her to dabble in so many different areas of interest and meet people who’ve helped shape her future goals.
“Finding friends who shared similar goals and passions to me was something I was very worried about, but being in my specific majors and the Honors College has really given me a chance to get to know people who are very like-minded and have similar goals,” Knights said. “It’s also given me the chance to meet people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, and that’s been really amazing.”
She said the financial support she’s received has also reminded her that not all students are receiving the same benefits, and that inspires her to be a supportive leader in her campus community.
“I think it’s really important that students receive that same support and maintain that drive to receive their education.”