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West Virginia’s young innovative scholars vie for Foundation Scholarship

Bucklew Scholars 2022

WVU's 2022 Bucklew Scholars (WVU Photo)

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Harnessing creativity and determination while classrooms and extracurricular activities were upended by the pandemic, the newest cohort of Bucklew Scholars has forged new paths to begin a journey at West Virginia University focused on discovery and finding creative solutions to the issues that have commanded the attention of its generation.

The Bucklew Scholarship is given to 20 high-achieving West Virginia students accepted to the University and qualifies them to be considered for the Foundation Scholarship, WVU’s highest academic scholarship.

Eager to make a difference and improve the overall quality of life in their communities and beyond, this empathic group of leaders is in search of novel therapies for complex diseases, and strategies to mitigate climate change and advance social justice.

Eight scholars will begin their journey in medicine at WVU.

Laya Chennuru from Martinsburg High School, Creek Richmond from Woodrow Wilson High School and Samvat Yadav from Princeton Senior High School will use their degrees in neuroscience as a path to medical school.

Inspired by strong patient relationships established while serving as a volunteer at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center and her mother’s rewarding career as a physician, Chennuru plans to pursue a career as a physician assistant in emergency medicine.

Richmond, who watched his father suffer from ALS, aspires to explore the world as a traveling neurologist or surgeon, and after witnessing firsthand a family history of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, Yadav plans to pursue a career as a physician-scientist focused on research in new approaches to complex disorders.

Liam Risk from Capital High School, who also has a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, has not declared a major but is contemplating research in progressive brain diseases. However, he has not ruled out law school and ultimately becoming a judge.

Biology majors, Lee Chua from Elkins High School plans to follow in his uncle’s footsteps as a pharmacist to improve patient safety by preventing adverse drug events and Liza Wan from Morgantown High School, who seeks to bridge her interests in art and healthcare, is considering a career as a prosthodontist to help those recovering from drug addiction and others in need.

Following two successful open heart surgeries and a gratifying experience serving as a kids karate instructor, Annmarie Raschella, a dual public health and Spanish major from Elkins High School, aspires to become a pediatrician.

Although Dominic Gabriele, an immunology and medical microbiology major from Morgantown High School, was inspired by his father's and grandfather's careers as radiologists to become a physician, a love of sports has sparked his interest in orthopedic medicine.

Inspired by Boston Marathon bombing survivor Heather Abbot’s advocacy of people with disabilities, Rebecca Cox from Fairmont Senior High School plans to use her degrees in mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering as a path to specialized pediatric prosthetics research and development for children and veterans.

Next, five scholars seek careers in engineering.

Reese Allen, a mechanical engineering major minoring in data science from Bridgeport High School, believes his field of study will offer expanded career options across many industries and looks forward to working in a large technology company before pivoting to a career in teaching.

Matthew Olivero, a dual mechanical and aerospace engineering major from Hurricane High School, has always been fascinated with aircraft and looks forward to joining the development and production of more ecofriendly airplanes while working for a large aerospace company.

Luke Graham from George Washington High School and Carter Leadmon from Hurricane High School, will begin their journey at WVU in computer science and computer engineering.

Graham, who is fascinated with solving complex coding problems and wants to be a part of future revolutionary technology discovery, is considering a career in software development, and Leadmon, who dreams of brining forward-thinking technology to his home state, is still exploring his career options, but believes his major will make him a versatile asset in any industry.

Rounding out the engineering majors is Zachary Taylor, an electrical and computer engineering major from Roane County High School who looks forward to using 3D modeling design and unorthodox approaches to solve complex problems related to sustainable development “to make the best better.”

Isabella Ferrell, an international studies major from Morgantown High School who believes that the real impetus for change in the world are insights gained by combining history and politics research, aspires to attend law school and ultimately serve as a United States diplomat.

Savannah Jones, a journalism major from Lincoln High School who believes a career in news writing will allow her to connect people to the world and help bring about positive change, aspires to become a travel writer to promote global awareness and cross-cultural understanding.

Julia Leyden, a history major minoring in biology from Morgantown High School whose passion to eradicate health inequities was propelled by stories of sickle cell disease and “Cancer Alley,” aspires to become a civil rights attorney.

Emma Fleming, a dual English and Spanish major from Parkersburg High School who enjoys writing poetry and movie reviews, aspires to become a lawyer and fiction writer fluent in Spanish to help break down cultural barriers and allow others to see the world through a more diverse lens.

Physics majors, Sarah Warder from Pocahontas County High School, a first-generation college student who always had an interest in space and overcame her fear of physics through the encouragement of her engineering and robotics teacher, will start her journey to becoming an astronomer. Inspired by his teacher’s old school teaching methods, Luke Watson from University High, who is considering a minor in education or music,  plans to eventually teach in a STEM-related field at the university level. 

The Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship is named after WVU’s 20th president and is valued at $40,000, providing its recipients with $10,000 per year over four years to be used toward educational costs. All Bucklew Scholars have qualified for the Honors College at WVU, and the scholarship may be used in addition to the state’s PROMISE Scholarship.

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.



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