A boy who saved prom. Another who brightened hospital patient’s days with corny jokes. A girl who helped an ailing stroke patient. Another who raised $3,000 in honor of a teacher’s daughter who passed away.

These are just some of the things West Virginia University’s newest class of Bucklew scholars have accomplished as high school students. Now, they’ll continue their education at WVU.

The University has awarded 20 of the state’s top-performing high school seniors the esteemed Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship to attend WVU in the fall.

The scholarship, valued at more than $26,000, provides each student with more than $6,600 per year toward educational costs during his/her four years at WVU.

Neil S. Bucklew, the scholarship’s creator, served as WVU’s 20th president from 1986 to 1995. The scholarships are part of the University’s comprehensive awards program and are supported, in part, by the WVU Foundation, the private non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.

The 2012 Bucklew scholars are:

Emma Dolan, Wheeling, Wheeling Park High School; Rachel Elkins, Hamlin, Lincoln County High School; Ryan Gellner, Glen Dale, John Marshall High School; Jessica Griffith, Morgantown, Morgantown High School; Nicholas Gutmann, Morgantown, University High School; Maggie Jones, Elkins, Elkins High School; Eric Kinney, Bridgeport, Bridgeport High School; Andrew Maloney, Morgantown, Morgantown High School; Tess McCloud, Bluefield, Bluefield High School; Philip Mickinac, New Manchester, Oak Glen High School; Hannah Moore, Morgantown, University High School; Rachel Morgan, Beverly, Elkins High School; Clara Novotny, Falling Waters, Hedgesville High School; Michael Phillips, Coalton, Elkins High School; Savannah Sims, Fairmont, Fairmont Senior High School; Ariel Thomas, Greenville, James Monroe High School; Emily Vandevender, Smoot, Greenbrier East High School; Joy Wang, Charleston, Capital High School; Tara Weese, Middlebourne, Tyler Consolidated High School; and Muhammad Yousaf, Charleston, George Washington High School.

The students are now eligible for WVU’s top academic award, the Foundation Scholarship, which is awarded to five of the Bucklew scholars and valued at more than $70,000 when paired with the PROMISE Scholarship. The Foundation scholars will be announced in May.

The Bucklew scholars:

Emma Dolan, of Wheeling, has a personal stake in what has inspired her dedication to work with young people who exhibit physical or mental handicaps.

“My sister has a physical handicap, and not once in her life has she allowed herself to use this as an excuse,” said Dolan of Wheeling Park High School. “She has inspired me to look at the bigger picture and find out how I can help.”

While attending WVU, Dolan plans to study abroad at the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston, England to study under director Dr. Joe McCleery in their Autism Research Program.

“My goal is to perform research in order to find improved treatments for mental illnesses and to discover more effective methods of correcting physical handicaps,” Dolan said. “My main focus will be on autism in children.”

Dolan is a Governor’s Honors Academy Scholar, member of the National Society of High School Scholars, a part of the City of Wheeling Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, an attendee of Rhododendron Girls’ State and a nominee for West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Female Athlete of the Year. She is also the recipient of a George E. Stifel Academic Achievement given by her high school.

Her extracurricular activities include student council, cross country team, volleyball team, swimming team, track and field team, student ambassador program, concert band, jazz band and marching band.

She has taken advanced courses in calculus, chemistry, English language and composition, English literature and composition, U.S. government and politics and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of Stephen and Mary Dolan.

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Rachel Elkins hopes to study the roles of women in society at WVU starting this fall. She is curious about how women across the world support their cultures and how it differs.

To do so, she would like to travel to Uganda.

“Ugandan women have just recently begun their journey in being able to bring in enough money to stabilize their homes,” she said. “By journeying to Uganda and interacting with these women, I could better understand not only their culture, but how they are revolutionizing their roles in it.”

Elkins, a Hamlin native from Lincoln County High School, will major in political science and women’s studies this fall at WVU.

She is a three-year member of National Honor Society and was selected as a senior to participate in the NASA Inspire Program. Elkins is a member of the Junior Red Cross, student body president, president of National Honor Society and captain of the speech and debate team, among other responsibilities.

She has taken advanced courses in algebra, calculus, English, environmental earth science, language and U.S. government and politics.

She is the daughter of Greg and Joanna Elkins.

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All Ryan Gellner needed was some help from a few teachers, a Facebook account and some determination to save prom.

As he admits, “leadership is born of great necessity,” and that’s exactly what his class at John Marshall High School was dealing with. He, as class president, led an awareness campaign to help raise $5,000 so that he and his peers could have a senior prom.

“The new, larger student government was able to hold many successful fundraisers over the following year which allowed us to pay for the entire dance and become closer friends in the process,” he said. “The final result was a memorable night which I enjoyed all the more knowing I had played a pivotal role in making possible.”

Gellner, a Glen Dale native, plans to study mechanical engineering at WVU before moving on to either civil or environmental engineering later on in college. He would like to study in Spain or Switzerland while at WVU in order to observe and participate in another culture’s method of discovery and work.

Gellner has been class president for the last three years. He is also the vice president of National Honor Society and plays on the baseball and ice hockey teams.

He has taken advanced courses in calculus, composition, and English literature, English physics and U.S. government and politics.

He is the son of Gregory and Cathy Gellner.

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Jessica Griffith, of Morgantown, plans to take her study abroad experience to a place she has already visited during a high school exchange program.

“Traveling to Kamez, a small town in Saxony, was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life, and I fell in love with the language and culture,” Griffith said. “I would love to travel there again for a study abroad program to work on a more professional level in a university setting.”

Griffith has been recognized nationally as a Presidential Scholar nominee, AP Scholar, National Biology Olympiad and National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. She placed second in the West Virginia National German Test and was president of the regional German Honorary Society. In her senior year, she was named secretary of state at Rhododendron Girls State.

She is active in the marching band, German club, social studies club, cross country, student council, show choir and jazz band at Morgantown High School where she will be graduating this spring.

Griffith has taken advanced courses in biology, calculus, English language and composition, English literature and composition, European history, government and politics and human geography.

She is the daughter of Robert Griffith and Anne Johnson.

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Nick Gutmann, of Morgantown, has been studying Italian since receiving the language software for Christmas in hopes of heading abroad to Italy during his college career.

“As a prospective engineer and someone who has an affinity for history, being able to see some of the oldest buildings ever constructed would not only be an enjoyable experience but an enriching one,” Gutmann said. “I have always believed that by seeing the relics of history, modern-day architecture can be inspired.”

Gutmann stated a promise to use a stipend to its full advantage and take every opportunity given to him in order to come back with a renewed look at engineering and a vision for the future.

“The University can be rest assured that they are sending a student into an environment in which he will thrive,” Gutmann said.

Gutmann is graduating sixth in his class at University High School and has been recognized as an AP Scholar and Governor’s Honors Academy Scholar. He is in the National Honor Society, Spanish Honorary and Mu Alpha Theta Math Honorary.

Gutmann is active in varsity soccer, basketball and football, orchestra, student council, ultimate Frisbee, the Academic Bowl and Science Bowl.

He has taken advanced courses in calculus, English language and composition, English literature and composition, government and politics, human geography, physics and human geography.

He is the son of Mark and Jamie Gutmann.

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Maggie Jones, of Elkins, intends on using her scholarship to broaden her perspective of the world by taking full advantage of the study abroad opportunities offered at WVU.

“I have always been fascinated with other cultures – from my experience with Scottish culture through Highland Dance to my encounters with Spanish culture through four years of high school Spanish classes,” said Jones of Elkins High School. “These experiences have fostered a curiosity of the world and the belief that in order to understand our own world, we must explore and seek to understand the worlds of others.”

Jones said she plans on applying for summer internships to work with local veterinarians and researchers to jumpstart a career in veterinarian school.

She has been nationally recognized as a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, National Thespian Honor Society and a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. She won first place in both the GEAR-UP Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest and the West Virginia Young Writer’s Contest. She also attended the West Virginia Governor’s Honor Academy and Rhododendron Girls State.

Her extracurricular activities include: theater, class council, student council, National Honor Society, varsity soccer, Young Democrats Club and prom council.

Jones has taken advanced courses in calculus, English language and composition, English literature and composition, Spanish, U.S. government and politics and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of Malcolm Jones and Catherine Johnson.

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Eric Kinney, of Bridgeport, plans to participate in the exchange program between the University of Strasbourg and WVU for more than just his pharmacy studies.

“My mother and grand-mère are originally from the region, and we still have family living there,” Kinney said. “An internship in Strasbourg would be a wonderful opportunity to enhance my career knowledge in pharmacy while learning about my ancestry.”

Kinney, hailing from Bridgeport High School and ranked second in his class, has been recognized in the state as an AP Rising Scholar, a member of the National Honor Society and a recipient of the WVU Presidential Scholarship. He was among those in his high school with a Perfect Honor Roll record and a four-year Academic Letter. He was awarded first place in the junior engineering team in the region and state levels.

He is active in the student government, junior engineering team, varsity soccer, jazz band, science bowl team, tennis, track and West Virginia Olympic development soccer.

Kinney has taken advanced coursework in calculus, chemistry, English and psychology.

He is the son of Jonathan and Patricia Kinney.

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For Andy Maloney, of Morgantown, Alzheimer’s disease hits close to home, and finding treatment for it is a career choice he’d like to follow.

“Both of my grandmothers suffered from Alzheimer’s and I would like to prevent this from happening to other people by using nanotechnology to develop more effective drug delivery systems,” Maloney said.

Maloney, who is graduating in the top 1 percent of his class at Morgantown High School, aims to study biomedical engineering in order to prepare him for graduate studies in nanotechnology.

He plans to spend a portion of his college years in Newton, England to experience a different culture while pursuing the field of nanotechnology.

“The field excites me because it is relatively new with the potential to make a major impact on the world,” he said.

He has been recognized as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, Dominion Post Honor Student, winner of a Siemens Award for AP, Presidential Scholar candidate, Boys State Senator and an AP Scholar with Distinction, among others.

Maloney is active in the student council, Habitat for Humanity, National Honor Society, Key Club, Science Honor Club and Math Honor Club, among other things.

Maloney has taken advanced courses in biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, English, environmental science, geography, history, physics, statistics and U.S. government and politics.

He is the son of Daniel and Christina Maloney.

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Tess McCloud has spent more than 200 hours at her local community center volunteering with the aquatic physical therapy program.

She remembers one event that changed her life. While volunteering one day, a stroke patient started to feel pain in his contracted arm muscles. Slowly, McCloud uncurled the patient’s fingers, straightened his wrist and elbow.

“I looked at him and realized tears were rolling down his cheeks. Alarmed, I apologetically asked him if I had hurt him. He told me that I had done quite the opposite- this was the best he had felt in months,” she said. “For the first time, I felt I had truly made a difference for one of the patients. It reassured me that physical therapy is the career for me.”

McCloud, a Bluefield native from Bluefield High School, will study exercise physiology at WVU in the fall and already plans of going to graduate school for physical therapy in the future. She also hopes to study abroad in Italy during her time at the University.

She is a four-year member of the National Honor Roll, the cross country team and art club. She has also won three different honors in the Laurel Leaves Writing Awards.

McCloud has taken advanced classes in biology, calculus, chemistry, language, literature and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of Barry and Jean McCloud.

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Several years ago, Philip Mickinac was shown photos of the grandiose Panama Canal by his grandfather. He had always been fascinated with ancient and modern architecture and technology.

He wants to see the Panama Canal in person while studying civil engineering at WVU starting this fall. Mickinac hopes to join Engineers Without Borders and travel to Panama to help local citizens.

“I believe that providing resources is only half of the solution; providing education is equally, if not more, important to ensure sustainability of the resolution,” Mickinac said. “It is now my dream to travel to Central America, traverse the Panama Canal, and use my ability to impact others by providing resources and education to perpetuate life changing improvements.

Mickinac, a New Manchester native from Oak Glen High School, is a four-year member of his high school’s Key Club in which he has been district governor, Division One lieutenant, governor and freshman director. He spends 60 hours per month on average with the club, attending district board meetings and other community service projects. He is also the student council president and National Honor Society vice president.

He has taken advanced courses in calculus, chemistry, probability and statistics, psychology and U.S. history.

He is the son of Dan and Lynn Mickinac.

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Hannah Moore, of Morgantown, also has the desire to study abroad and wants to learn about history through the viewpoint of other nations, especially in regard to America.

“I want to try to see our country through unbiased eyes and experience how the rest of the world views the actions of ‘the world’s most powerful nation,’” Moore said. “I want to know what it is like to live in a country that relies not on wealth and physical size for power, but must belong to part of a union to keep strong, somewhere where history is measured not in centuries but in millennia.”

Moore, who is graduating third in her class at University High School, hopes to become fluent in French and could see herself participating in one of WVU’s International Student Exchange Programs programs, either in Belgium or France, to stay on track with her normal studies at WVU.

She has been recognized as an AP Scholar, a U.S. Presidential Scholarship candidate and a National Merit Scholar semifinalist. She is in the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, WVU Honor Band, All-State Band and Orchestra and participated in the Governor’s School for the Arts and the Governor’s Honors Academy. She ranked fifth in West Virginia in the National French Test.

Extracurricular activities include marching band, French Honorary, Academic Bowl, Origami Club, Student Council, science club, French club, pit orchestra and symphony orchestra.

Moore has taken advanced courses in calculus, English, human geography, literature, physics and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of Kevin and Heidi Moore.

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Rachel Morgan has broken an interesting record at her high school; she’s taken the most foreign language classes in the school’s history.

Morgan, a Beverly native from Elkins High School, has taken Spanish every year since eighth grade and has taken seven Spanish classes alone in high school. She will major in world language, linguistics and culture at WVU.

It’s that type of passion that she hopes to continue at WVU by traveling to Spain to put that immense education to good use.

“College has been an inspiring moment in my life where I will be able to study the subjects that enthrall me the most, more precisely being Spanish,” she said. “Having an opportunity to travel to a Spanish-speaking country to speak the language, be immersed in the day-to-day activity, and be inspired by the local flavor of the region would be the greatest experience I could ever imagine and would not trade for anything.”

In addition, Morgan is a member of International Highland Dance, in which she has placed internationally throughout her life and now helps teach younger girls better dance technique. She is a member of her school’s National Honor Society and Spanish Honors Society.

She has taken advanced courses in biology, calculus, critical thinking, English, English literature, government, Spanish and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of Mark and Ruth Morgan.

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Clara Beth Novotny, of Falling Waters, said she takes delight in designing experiments for her science courses at Hedgesville High School.

“The laboratory is my domain,” Novotny said. “I truly believe that my desire to delve into the world’s medical mysteries and my commitment to connecting and utilizing knowledge I can allow me to greatly benefit humanity.”

Graduating first in her 361-student senior class, Novotny plans on earning a degree at in biochemistry to prepare for a career devoted to medical research.

“I look forward to expanded opportunities with advanced equipment and specialized classes at WVU in the fall,” she said.

She has been recognized with several awards for her work at the WV State Science Fair in the Physics category including a U.S. Army Award, and a CIA Winner title. She competed in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and was also selected to participate in the NASA Summer Research Academy and the Governor’s School for Math and Science.

Novotny is active in the Kiwanis Key Club, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honors Society, varsity cross country team, varsity track and field team, Berkeley County Business Partnership and the student newspaper, among other things.

She has taken advanced courses in biology, calculus, chemistry, English language and literature, history, Spanish and U.S. government and politics. She also completed a WVU college algebra course.

She is the daughter of Michael and Beth Novotny.

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Mike Phillips wants to change the world with cancer research at WVU.

His great aunt passed away from cancer in 2007, and from then on he realized his calling. Phillips wants to be an oncologist who helps families battle cancer together.

“I believe the cure for cancer lies in identifying the cause or causes, and ultimately, if cancer can be prevented, we will not need a cure,” Phillips said.

Phillips is a senior at Elkins High School from Coalton. He will major in either pre-pharmacy or pre-medicine this fall.

In 10th grade, he joined the Old Brick Playhouse Apprenticeship Program as a shy, reserved boy. But, he admits after two years in the program that he has matured and now helps new students in Old Brick’s theater classes.

In addition, he has been a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and his school’s Spanish National Honor Society throughout high school. He has been a committee chairman for the past two years on student council and the vice president and president of class council throughout high school.

He has taken advanced classes in calculus, English language, English literature and composition, U.S. government and politics and U.S. history. He has taken college courses in algebra, biology and chemistry among others.

He is the son of William Phillips Jr. and Angie Shockley.

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For many children growing up, working at NASA is a dream job. Few can say they actually accomplished such a dream, but Savannah Sims did so while still in high school.

Sims, a Fairmont native from Fairmont Senior High School, interned at NASA and worked on a project related to software engineering evaluation. She will study biomedical engineering at WVU this fall and hopes to make a positive impact on others throughout the rest of her life.

“After witnessing family members encounter pain related to heath issues, I gained the desire to improve health and minimize suffering to others,” said Sims, who would like to travel to a European university to foster collaboration with WVU relating to biomedical technologies over the next four years.

Sims has been part of 17 clubs her senior year and has been involved in many more of the last four years in high school. In addition, she has won first-place awards at Math Field Day and the Social Studies Fair – Economics Division. Sims is the vice president of National Honor Society at FSHS and president of the Science Honorary.

She has taken advanced classes in algebra, calculus, chemistry, English language and composition, literature and composition, trigonometry, U.S. government and politics and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of Herman Sims and Stephanie Graham-Sims.

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Ariel Thomas, of Greenville, has set her sights on traveling to Germany to guide her on a path toward becoming an attorney specializing in bioethical issues.

She plans on using her stipend during the summer of 2013 to attend the German Academic Exchange Service RISE (Research Internships in Science and Technology) Program, a 3-month program that offers students opportunities to work with the top research institutions across Germany.

“As an aspiring attorney, the opportunity to obtain varied perspectives from an entirely different culture could provide valuable insight or even encouragement to expand my career goals to an international level,” Thomas said.

She participated in the Naval Academy Summer Seminar, and received an honorable mention award at the Model United Nations Conference in 2011. She was named a Distinguished Westest Scholar by her high school and also received honors in outstanding attendance and art achievement.

Thomas is graduating from James Monroe High School and is active in the Future Business Leaders of America, Math and Science Team, National Honor Society, Debate Team, Ju-Jitsu Team, Track and Field and the school newspaper, among other things.

She has taken advanced courses in biology, English, government and politics and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of Alan and Erika Thomas.

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Emily Vandevender, of Smoot, realized a passion for South American culture during her years of taking high school level Spanish courses, which led her to participate in two mission trips to Mexico.

“I discovered a tingling, itching, relentless desire to travel through Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America,” Vandevender said. “To me, South America is one of the landscapes and cultures I regard with utmost and unceasing curiosity – an opportunity to explore and immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking country is enthralling.”

She will graduate second in her class at Greenbrier East High School and intends on majoring in biochemistry at WVU in the fall.

Vandevender has been recognized in the state in 2011 by placing first in management principles in the Concord University Business Challenge, first in the psychology competition at the Marshall University SCORES Academic Competition, and was selected to attend the Governor’s Honors Academy. She is a recipient of an AP Scholarship, the 4-H Teen Citizenship Award and Pin, 4-H Teen Leadership Award and National I Dare You Leadership Award. She is a member of the National Honor Society and the Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society.

Activities throughout high school include the Central Willing 4-H Club, Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Science Quiz Bowl Team, Future Business Leaders of America, Spartan Spirit Club, girl’s track team and soccer team, among other things.

She has taken advanced courses in biology, calculus, composition, government and politics, language, literature, psychology and U.S. history.

She is the daughter of John and RuthAnn Vandevender.

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Joy Wang, of Charleston, got a taste for the medical field while volunteering at a local hospital throughout her high school years.

“I plan to become a doctor, and my volunteering has made me more passionate and appreciative about my career choice,” Wang said. “It gave me an inside look into the daily routine of both doctors and nurses.”

First in her class at Capital High School, Wang plans to study abroad in South America to experience rich culture and history, and to observe how other cultures are utilizing medicine.

Wang was recognized statewide as a representative to the legislature at the Governor’s Honor Academy, All State Band member, MENSA member, winner of the MSAC quizbowl and received first place titles in world geography, history and Spanish at the S.C.O.R.E.S. Competition. She was also nationally recognized as an AP Rising Scholar with Honor this year.

Her activities include band, math and science quizbowl, student council, swim team, West Virginia Youth Orchestra and National Honor Society.

Wang has completed advanced coursework in biology, calculus, chemistry, English, music history and appreciation, Spanish, U.S. government and politics, U.S. history and world history.

She is the daughter of Stuart and Angela Humphreys.

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Future psychology major Tara Weese, of Middlebourne, has a desire to see how other cultures operate firsthand. To achieve this, she’d like to use her scholarship toward several small trips to different parts of the world.

“It would be interesting to see if psychological concepts apply worldwide or if they have been tailored for only western civilizations,” Weese said. “It would greatly benefit me in my field of study.”

As an aspiring prosecuting attorney, Weese believes it is important to experience the culture in different countries and economic regions in order to be cutting-edge in her field.

“I am highly motivated to understand how to give back to the world around me, and this opportunity will be a great increase to my personal world view and understanding,” she said.

Weese is the valedictorian of her class at Tyler Consolidated High School and a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship.

Her extracurricular activities include varsity soccer, track and cross country, theatre, RAZE, photography, student government, Christian club, yearbook, National Honor Society and Schools for Schools Club.

Weese has completed advanced coursework in biology, chemistry, composition, history, psychology and statistics.

She is the daughter Ronald and Marsha Weese.

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Muhammad Yousaf cherishes a special five minutes he has ever so often in Thomas Memorial Hospital.

His favorite task when he volunteers at the hospital is when he has the opportunity to transfer patients from one room to another. He says it’s his five minutes to brighten up a patient’s day.

“My character over the years has evolved from the days I spent in the hospital. It has changed everything about me. I know I have something that plenty of people of all ages do not possess: empathy,” he said. “It is only after a long time spent helping the needy that one can come to understand them on a whole new level. They aren’t just strangers asking you to go fetch some milk; they are human beings, just like you and me.”

Yousaf, a Charleston native from George Washington High School, will major in biomedical engineering this fall. He would like to travel to Syria while at WVU.

He has won first and second-place awards in the United States Chess Federation and was the co-founder of his high school’s Chess Club. Yousaf is in more than 10 clubs this year and was named an AP Scholar with Distinction as a junior.

Yousaf has taken advanced classes in art history, biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, English language and composition, English literature, environmental science, government and politics, human geography, macroeconomics, music theory, physics, psychology, Spanish, statistics and world history.

He is the son of M. Babar and Asma Yousaf.

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CONTACT: Brian Hoover; WVU Undergraduate Scholarship Office
304.293.2577; Brian.Hoover@mail.wvu.edu

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.