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Olivia Dowler '24
Foundation Scholar Olivia Dowler has seen what language barriers and other differences can affect the justice system, and she hopes to use her education at West Virginia University to bring representation to others.
Dowler, a Weirton W.Va. resident in the Class of 2024, will join the Mountaineer family this fall. Along with the Foundation Scholarship, she will receive the PROMISE scholarship and the Valedictorian Scholarship—guaranteeing her a full-ride for the next for years.
The Foundation Scholarship also includes a one-time $4,500 travel stipend, and she plans on using her stipend to spend her junior year studying abroad in Spain.
She will double major in history and world languages, literatures and linguistics with an emphasis in Spanish and a minor in political science. Her dream is to become a human rights lawyer so she can amplify the voices of those unjustly silenced.
“Immigrants can’t have a voice, Appalachian people can’t have a voice, Queer people can’t have a voice,” she said. “Having my privilege, I feel like it’s almost a responsibility for me to stand up and make this country fair and equal like everyone originally wanted.”
Dowler values the importance of history in education and hopes to someday teach the subject at the collegiate level in addition to practicing law. With issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and racial intolerance, she said it’s important to show future generations how history can repeat itself in order to prevent it from happening again.
“We need to see what’s happened and remember where we came from—good and bad—to help us tomorrow.”
Her love for learning other languages led her to choose her other major. She is interested in seeing how Spanish, among other languages, may play a role in prejudice, and she hopes to use her experience with multiple languages while advocating for clients.
“We shouldn’t pressure other people to learn English necessarily,” she said. “I think it would be cool for us all to branch out to other languages, and we could just communicate with more people.”
Dowler will come to WVU this fall as a first-generation college student, and she hopes to make her family proud through academics and campus involvement.
“Maybe they weren’t given the exact same opportunities, and to see a first-generation child or grandkid going off on a full ride to college is just insane.”
In addition to studying abroad, Dowler has big plans for her next four years, including volunteering in Central America with the Global Public Health Brigades. She also plans to participate in the Student Government Association, Model United Nations, Quiz Bowl and A Moment of Magic.
“The scholarships take a lot off of having to focus so much on being in debt versus just being able to freely learn and evolve myself.”