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WVU student named University’s fourth Marshall Scholar

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WVU's Myya Helm is a 2021 Marshall Scholar, giving her the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom for two fully-funded years toward a graduate degree. (Submitted Photo/Liliana Farabaugh)

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West Virginia University’s Myya Helm has been named a Marshall Scholar, a prestigious award that offers more than 40 young Americans of high ability the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom for two fully-funded years toward a graduate degree. 

One of 41 students selected this year, Helm was selected from more than 1,000 applications from top undergraduate students representing institutions across the United States. 

“I just feel so strong and empowered having been offered this opportunity to not only just be able to go and study overseas in the United Kingdom, but to be able to study something that’s so important to my identity and my community,” Helm said. “I really want to thank my mentors at West Virginia University and within the surrounding community that have had a part in helping me find who I am as a person and what I want to do with my life and helping me really hone my passions and be able to continue doing what I know that I’m meant to do.”

In Fall 2022, Helm will start a two-year research Master of Philosophy program at Cardiff University, studying history with a focus on the Welsh history of Black working class coal miners. 

An Honors College senior from West Union, Helm said part of why the topic resonates with her is that she has family members who worked in the coal mines. She said it’s important to understand our history to build our futures.

“I think that analyzing history allows us to understand how society behaves, providing the data to create beneficial policy change for the future,” Helm said. “Because of that I want to study Black history in its own right and to document and share the Black experience critically, whether in West Virginia or Wales, to find out what people in the Black community were doing and thinking for themselves.”

A double major in political science and international studies with a minor in Arabic studies, Helm’s academic path has focused on her local community, international studies, and social justice. She has interned with the U.S. Department of State, represented WVU on its United Nations team, worked as a West Virginia state legislative intern, and is a board member for the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival. She is currently working for the WVU LGBTQ+ Center as an AmeriCorps VISTA. 

After graduate school, Helm plans to return to the United States to earn both her Master of Arts and doctoral degrees in sociology from Howard University. Helm is also a Gilman International Scholar and an Eberly Arts and Sciences Scholar, and has been awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Arabic in Jordan.

“There aren’t enough honorifics to describe Myya and the work that she has undertaken in her campus, local, and state communities. She has consistently shown herself as a proven change agent and is a true inspiration for all students, but particularly first-generation West Virginians,” Eric Myers, ASPIRE Office program coordinator, said. 

The Marshall Scholarship was created by an Act of Parliament to honor U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, the architect of the rebuilding of Western Europe after World War II. The British Government principally funds the program but also benefits from generous support from the country’s leading academic institutions. The scholarship enables intellectually distinguished young Americans to do graduate work at any university they choose in the U.K.

“Marshall Scholars continue to represent the very best of American society, from their ingenuity and creativity to their commitment to public service,” said Dame Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the United States. “For decades, the scholarship has played an important role in supporting young future leaders such as these and I am excited for them to continue their development at some of the UK’s top universities.”

WVU has had three previous British Marshall scholarship recipients, including Lisa Di Bartolomeo, Marshall Scholarship faculty advisor. The ASPIRE office prepares students for highly competitive scholarships. Students who are interested in applying should email to set up an appointment.



CONTACT: Amy Cyphert,
ASPIRE Office Director

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