BUCKHANNON - Twelve American Scholar finalists gathered last week at West Virginia Wesleyan College for the announcement of who among them would earn academic awards that could include a full scholarship to college.
Jessica Nelson of Morgantown, a student at Morgantown High School, is this year's recipient of a full four-year scholarship that covers both tuition and room and board to Wesleyan.
Nelson said she plans to major in English/creative writing with a possible double major in communications.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Mikenze Poling of Buckhannon, left, Jessica Nelson of Morgantown, middle, and Rachel Miller of Flemington are announced as the top three 2013 recipients of the American Scholar Program.
She said the announcement that she had won the full scholarship came as a shock.
"I didn't quite believe it for a second, but when the very initial shock wore off, I was overjoyed," Nelson said, adding that she and her family no longer have to worry about how to pay for college.
"To win something like this is beyond incredible. I am very, very fortunate."
Rachel Miller of Flemington, a student at Grafton High School, was the first runner-up and received a $5,000 scholarship to attend Wesleyan, and Mikenze Poling of Buckhannon, who attends Buckhannon-Upshur High School, was the second runner-up, winning a $2,500 scholarship.
Poling said, "It was completely a surprise. I know that all of these candidates were extremely wonderful and dynamic in every way. Then, to be chosen as not only to be part of the top 12, but also top three, is just a huge privilege, and I'm honored."
Three other Buckhannon-Upshur High School students earned a spot among the 12 finalists, including are Kaitlyn Ault of Volga, David Maxwell of Buckhannon and Shelby Williams of Buckhannon.
Kelsey Acree of Mount Nebo, Kayla Heater of Orlando, Alea Hess of Morgantown, Tori Louk of Mill Creek, Tyler Louk of Mill Creek and Katherine Reid of Clarksburg were the other
Bernie Valento, vice president for enrollment management at Wesleyan, said, "It is truly a special occasion because we have the opportunity to take time out of our busy lives to recognize these incredible individuals who exemplify academic excellence. They've gone above and beyond in the classroom and they've achieved great
Wesleyan President Dr. Pamela Balch said all of the finalists are winners and that selecting the top 12 and then the top three was challenging.
The American Scholar competition was sponsored by Wesleyan, Magic 106.5 and 93.5 WBTQ.
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.