When Dillon Muhly-Alexander became the first student from Doddridge County High School to be named a West Virginia University Foundation Scholar, it was because of the leadership and compassion he showed for others by creating a backpack program to supply food to at-risk children.
As a WVU student, he took advantage of every opportunity to conduct research on food security, work with legislators and travel abroad to learn about global development. Now he has another first for his already impressive resume—the first WVU student to be named a Gates-Cambridge Scholar.
This prestigious scholarship, established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will enable him to pursue post-graduate work this fall at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and earn a master of philosophy degree in development studies.
Muhly-Alexander will become part of global network of young people chosen for their intellect, their leadership, and their commitment to improving the lives of others.
More than 4,500 students apply from around the world with only 90 selected. Muhly-Alexander is one of only 35 U.S. students to be accepted.
"This is quite an accomplishment both for Dillon and the University," President Gordon Gee said. "Dillon has made an impact at this University since he set foot on campus as a Foundation Scholar in 2013. As West Virginia University’s first Gates Cambridge scholar, he will continue to make an impact on society, and represent West Virginia University as a place that produces leaders."
Muhly-Alexander graduated in May 2017 with a degree in international studies from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. He conducted research with WVU’s FoodLink program, was president of student chapter of WVU’s Our Children, Our Future, interned in the West Virginia Legislature, and studied abroad in Nicaragua, The Netherlands, Timor-Leste and Rwanda.
A student in the Honors College, he was also awarded the Order of Augusta, an honorary which recognizes the top eight graduating seniors in a class of 4,500. Muhly-Alexander is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in the Honors College where he assists with program development relating to education accessibility for first-generation and low-income students.
"I am tremendously excited and honored for this opportunity,” Muhly-Alexander said. “I would like to thank my friends, family, mentors and professors for their support throughout this process and my educational career--they challenged me, taught me, and guided me and I hope this serves as a testament to all their hard work. This really was a team effort."
In addition to their coursework, the Gates Cambridge scholars will attend seminars and workshops with eminent speakers. They will become immersed in the campus community and engage with fellow scholars in a program that promotes intellectual rigor, leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others.
“Dillon has already proven himself a remarkable leader on our campus and in our state. With the global network he will gain as a Gates Scholar and the international development education he will receive at Cambridge, he will be a force for change, improving the lives of others,” said Amy Cyphert, director of the ASPIRE Office at WVU. “He makes me hopeful for our future, and I’m so very proud of him.”
CONTACT: Amy Cyphert, director