Fellowships differ from scholarships as they provide long-term support, rather than one-time financial dispersals. Students in the Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship & Summer Bridge Program are bolstered throughout their college careers.
Once selected, fellows begin their program with a mandatory bridge program, a five-day stay at Fairmont State during the summer. This bridge program gives fellows an indispensable link from high school to college with the aim to reduce the anxiety that comes with the transition. It gives these students a positive jump-start to college life. A fellowship coordinator ensures that students receive ongoing support, which includes time to socialize with other fellows.
Throughout the five-day summer bridge, fellows live on campus, which helps them gain familiarity with the university’s layout. They have the opportunity to talk with advisors, meet other students and learn about academic studies—all in a relaxed setting.
Next year’s summer bridge program runs July 6-11, 2024.
“Bridge week happens over the summer, so the fellows get to know each other before classes start,” said Marissa Mauro, Fairmont State Foundation Director of Development for Annual Giving and Stewardship. “They develop new friendships and build a community of camaraderie.”
While bridge programs vary at different universities, Fairmont State’s main goal is to reduce the barriers that intimidate high school students from going to college.
In past generations, a post-secondary degree didn’t always matter. Young people attained fulfilling work and stayed with one company for their entire working lives. On the job training was common, and it gave promising employees opportunities for advancement.
Today’s job market is different. According to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, income disparity between college graduates and high school graduates starts early. While still in their 20s, college graduates can expect to earn on average $20,000 more per year than high school graduates.
Those numbers add up. Over the course of a lifetime, college graduates earn $1 million more than those without a degree.
West Virginia’s goal is to have 60 percent of its adult population attain a college degree or other type of credentialed education by 2030. Right now, fewer than one-third of West Virginians have any of these credentials.
Fairmont State’s commitment to first generation students is evident in its numbers. Since 2012, nearly 40 percent of the university’s graduates have been first generation students. Forty-three percent of Fairmont State’s current freshmen are first generation students.
“As a first-generation West Virginia college student, I understand the challenges of being the first in your family to attend college,” Interim Vice President of Student Success Alicia Kalka said. “My family was highly supportive of me going to college and planted that seed into me at a very young age. We had to learn together the process of enrolling and all the resources that I needed to be successful. If I had attended a summer bridge program like this, I think my transition would have been easier. I am so proud of our Datha and Gene program because we are providing a true bridge for first generation students from West Virginia and access into post-secondary education.”
Although neither Gene nor Datha Smith pursued a post-secondary education, they saw its value. In 2005, the Smiths established a foundation to help first generation students. Since then, the Smiths have passed, but their children have carried on their parents’ legacy by founding this recent fellowship.
“Fairmont State is here to ensure that our first-generation students know there is a way, and we are here to help them reach their dream of going to college,” Kalka said. “As a university, we are mission driven to educate and prepare people for the workforce. When we achieve this, we’re contributing to West Virginia as a whole.”
It is through this fellowship that students are able to achieve their goals of a four-year degree. Because the fellowship covers many of the costs to attend Fairmont State, fellows are able to focus on academics rather than a future with inordinate student debt.
“I’ve watched the students gain confidence as they make the transition to college life,” said Erin Hohl, Coordinator of the Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship. “The fellows know they are showing their potential to do something life-changing for themselves after going through the fellowship.”
Fellows Accepted into the 2024 Summer Bridge Program will:
Requirements to Apply for the Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship:
You can apply for the The Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship online. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2024.
John wanted to do whatever he could to help others achieve advanced education so that they could help other less fortunate people. Being a frugal person, John, Jr. carefully managed his limited sources of income. Thus, a significant portion of this endowment consists of the money from his own savings account.
“I am thankful that we will be able to provide funds to teacher candidates pursuing special education,” said Julie Reneau Professor of Special Education and Executive Director of Autism Individualized Mentoring & Support Services. “There is a critical shortage of special educators in our region and skilled special educators are needed to help students with disabilities reach their long-term goals. I am so amazed and appreciative that the money for much of this endowment comes from John Jr.”
The John Anthony Carbone, Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship will provide funds to students demonstrating financial need to cover tuition, fees, books, room, and board. Students who are residents of West Virginia or children of West Virginia residents are eligible for this award with preference given to graduates from high schools in Marion, Monongalia, Harrison, and Taylor Counties. Recipients must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better and be entering their junior year of studies as a special education major.
After completing her undergraduate degree at Fairmont State and earning a master’s degree in education, Lucille began a lifelong career as an educator and principal at various schools within the Harrison County School System.
Together, the Andersons served their community in various organizations including Delta Kappa Gamma, American Association of University Women, Queen Esther Chapter of Eastern Star, Ladies Oriental Shrine, Order of Amaranth, Shinnston Women’s Club, Harrison County Association of Retired School Employees, Quiet Dell Garden Club and the First United Methodist of Quiet Dell. Their service to the community was not ignorant of future generations.
“Seba and Lucille did not have any children, but they wanted to provide for the kids in Harrison County,” said David. Thus, Lucille entrusted Fairmont State University to provide Lincoln High School students a scholarship opportunity to pursue a four-year college degree.
“They wanted Lincoln High School students to benefit because Lincoln High School, which used to be the Shinnston High School, is where they both graduated from,” said Rebecca Moore, a close family friend to the Andersons.
The Seba T. and Lucille B. Anderson Endowed Scholarship will be available to graduates of Lincoln High School or students of Harrison County with a minimum grade point average of 2.8 or higher.
“The Anderson’s generous gift will undoubtedly make a difference in the lives of many students,” said Fairmont State Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Life Alicia Kalka, “Seba and Lucille’s commitment to education is admirable, and mirrors Fairmont State’s own institutional value of providing accessible higher education to students from all walks of life.”
“Seba and Lucille clearly valued education and understood the impact higher education has on the trajectory of students’ lives. Many of the students at Fairmont State University share the same grit and determination to succeed as Lucille did working on her family’s farm. Through this scholarship, many hard-working students will receive much needed assistance to make their college degree a reality. We are incredibly grateful to steward this gift on behalf of Seba and Lucille Anderson,” said Rachel Rae Dyer, President of the Fairmont State Foundation.
The Smith's children, Sherry Brown, Sherry's husband Dave Brown, Sue Post, and Eugene “Bob” Smith, chose to establish the Fellows Program after recognizing the unique needs of first generation college students.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Smith family,” said Fairmont State University Interim President Dianna Phillips. “As a family with three first-generation college graduates, they have a deep understanding of the profound impacts of higher education. They also have a keen understanding of the unique challenges faced by first-generation students and their needs while transitioning to life on a college campus. These gifts will allow us to continue to provide critical services to our campus community, specifically our first-generation students, while serving our mission to provide a transformative education.”
The first class of fellows were named during the summer of 2022 and were provided the opportunity for an immersive orientation experience. Fellows spent a week at Fairmont State learning about the academic resources available to them through the University and learning to navigate the campus.
Meals, lodging and all activities are provided at no cost to students participating in the Datha and Gene Smith summer program. Following their summer immersion experience, fellows will continue to receive weekly academic and coaching support from peer mentors. As this pilot program evolves, it will serve as a powerful recruiting and retention tool for the University.
In addition to the launch of the Summer Bridge program, the existing Learning Enrichment and Academic Development (LEAD) Center – a tutoring and testing center – has been renamed the Datha & Gene Smith Center. In years past, the Smiths have also established a need-based scholarship and provided support for the Frank and Jane Gabor Folklife Center facility.
Datha and Gene Smith, both native West Virginians, spent most of their lives in Marion County, West Virginia before retiring to Florida. Their children and five of their grandchildren attended Fairmont State.
“This gift from the Teahan family ensures that students can broaden their educational exploration with immersive travel experiences that complement their fields of study. Opportunities to study abroad can be life-changing for college students, providing invaluable perspectives and fostering curiosity,” said Rae Dyer, Fairmont State Foundation President. “Each student who benefits from this scholarship will honor Midge’s love for exploration and learning. We celebrate the Teahan family for providing this opportunity at Fairmont State University.”
Teahan’s children Julie Teahan, Margaret Teahan, and John Teahan wish to share with students the love of learning and exploration that inspired their mother to travel around the world.
“You only grow when you’re uncomfortable, and often you need to leave what you know to grow,” said Julie Teahan. “We thought this scholarship would give students an opportunity to experience a different culture, place, and from that grow.”
The Teahan family believes in the words of Irish poet W.B. Yeats to describe the life experiences of Midge and those they wish for Fairmont State University through the Midge Teahan Travel Scholarship, “There is another world, but it is in this one.”
“This scholarship presented by the Teahan family will open doors for many Fairmont State students to step into the international world and experience new communities and cultures,” said Coordinator of Educational Pathway for International Centers and Students Sarah Sakaguchi. “As a university, it is our mission to create global citizens and even more, global leaders. Students who travel abroad are more likely to graduate, to succeed, and have higher marketability in the job market. As we are revitalizing Study Abroad in a post pandemic world, understanding international cultures and fostering relationships is incredibly important and we are so grateful for this opportunity that the Teahan family has provided.”
The Midge Teahan Travel Scholarship will be available for undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled full-time and have applied for a study abroad program. Preference will be given to undergraduate students. Students must be a resident of West Virginia and maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
A Marion County family has provided a gift of $26,000 to Fairmont State University to create a new scholarship for future teachers. The donation will establish the Roman and Amelia Prezioso Endowed Scholarship benefitting students in the Teacher Education program in the College of Education, Health & Human Performance.
Roman Prezioso Jr., his wife, Deborah Prezioso, and his sister, Marie Prezioso, have established the scholarship in honor of the parents of Roman Jr. and Marie. The Prezioso family wishes to honor the value that their parents and grandparents placed on education with this generous gift.
“My grandparents came to the United States in the early 1900s to make a living, practice their religion and educate their children. My parents, Roman Sr. and Amelia, held the same values and encouraged me and my sister to pursue college degrees after high school,” Roman Jr. said. “We believe the education of our youth is the foundation of our state and country.”
When asked why the family chose to support students at Fairmont State, Prezioso Jr. said, “Higher education has given our family tremendous opportunities for success. Additionally, the Teacher Education program at Fairmont State is one of the best of its kind, making this endowed scholarship for future teachers an easy choice. We are honored and humbled to give back so that others will be able to achieve their dreams.”
Roman Prezioso Jr. is a 1971 graduate of Fairmont State who went on to serve in education administration and as a West Virginia State Senator. Deborah Prezioso completed her education at Fairmont State in 1973 and is a retired elementary school teacher. Marie Prezioso is a retired investment banker who currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Water Development Authority.
“Quality educators are foundational to our society, and Fairmont State has a rich history of preparing highly skilled professionals for the classroom,” said Foundation President, Rae Dyer. “Through the generosity of the Prezioso family, we can continue the tradition of teacher education, and ensure deserving students have access to the focused and personalized education experience offered by the University. We are so grateful that the Preziosos have chosen to honor Roman Sr. and Amelia with this gift.”
The Roman and Amelia Prezioso Endowed Scholarship will be available to students enrolled in the Teacher Education program at Fairmont State University’s College of Education, Health & Human Performance. Students should maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Preference will be given to students from Marion County, W.Va.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Prezioso family,” said Fairmont State University Interim President, Dianna Phillips. “Our region and state continue to face a critical teacher shortage within our K-12 schools. Through this gift the Preziosos are affording us the opportunity to continue combating this crisis head on, while ensuring transformative opportunities for future generations of educators.”
Two sisters from Marion County, along with family and friends, have chosen to honor the life of their mother with a gift to Fairmont State University, totaling $26,000. The gift will establish the Estaline May Fleming Memorial Scholarship supporting students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance.
Fairmont native, Estaline May Fleming studied Family and Consumer Sciences at Fairmont State, earning her degree in 1976. Fleming was active in the Fairmont community, serving as a life-long member of the Rock Lake Club, remaining engaged with her sorority, participating in the Mountain Heritage Quilters Guild of Marion County and volunteering with Meals on Wheels.
“By honoring the life and legacy of Estaline May Fleming, her children, family and friends pay exceptional tribute to her support for higher education at Fairmont State University. Establishing a scholarship in her name ensures that her enthusiasm for her community will endure through the educational pursuits of deserving students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance.” said Gary K. Bennett, President of the Fairmont State Foundation.
Fleming’s daughters, Dr. Judie Charlton and Nan Murray, have chosen to honor her memory with this scholarship because of their family history with the University. Mrs. Fleming and her husband, William “Hoppy” Fleming, were avid supporters of Fairmont State, regularly attending games and events and enjoying the camaraderie of students, employees and fans of the Institution.
“Supporting Fairmont State is important because my family grew up in Fairmont and Fairmont State was always an intricate part of our foundation. My mother and father attended Fairmont State, and my sister and I started our college experience at Fairmont State," Murray said. "Fairmont State has always been a key part of our community."
The Estaline May Fleming Memorial Scholarship will be available to students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
“We are so grateful for this gift from the family and friends of Estaline May Fleming,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “She had such a deep love for her community – a love borne out by her commitment to service and giving back. Fairmont State shares those values, and The Estaline May Fleming Memorial Scholarship helps us continue to give back to the communities that help us in our mission to provide a transformative education. Scholarship gifts like this one are vital to the University. This scholarship specifically supports students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance – a college filled with students pursuing degrees in high-need fields – and will have a profound impact on these programs and students, as well as our communities, for years to come.”
Fairmont State University alumni create scholarship for College of Education, Health and Human Performance studentsFairmont State University alumni create scholarship for College of Education, Health and Human Performance students
Two Grafton, West Virginia natives have established a new endowed scholarship for students at Fairmont State University.
David and Barbara Riggleman, both Fairmont State alumni, chose to support the College of Education, Health and Human Performance through the David and Barbara Riggleman Endowed Scholarship because of the impact that educators had on their lives.
“We were the first members of our families to attend college, so attending Fairmont State enabled us to feel we were a part of the Falcon Family. Small class sizes enabled us to feel connected to our fellow students and our professors,” said Barbara. “Our lives were greatly enriched with all the experiences we received through our high school years and at Fairmont State, and we want other students to have the same opportunities.”
David completed his business degree at Fairmont State in 1969 and taught at a technical school while he served in the United States Air Force. Following his military service, he enjoyed a 36-year career at Monongahela Power Company. Barbara finished her degree in English in 1976 before going on to enrich the lives of students at Grafton High School as an English teacher.
“It is through the loyal and generous support of David and Barbara Riggleman that future students may be able to complete their educational dreams. With the increases in costs of higher education, more students’ scholarships are woefully needed at Fairmont State. Scholarships help relieve part of the financial pressure faced by most students today,” according to Gary K. Bennett, President of the Fairmont State Foundation.
Nearly 90% of students at Fairmont State rely on some form of financial aid to cover the costs of pursuing a degree.
“David and Barbara Riggleman are perfect examples of what it means to have a Falcon Heart,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Hard-working and generous, they know the impact a Fairmont State education had on their own lives. Through the David and Barbara Riggleman Endowed Scholarship, they’re enabling that transformative opportunity to remain accessible for future generations of Falcons.”
The David and Barbara Riggleman Endowed Scholarship will be available to students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. First preference will be given to students from Taylor County, West Virginia.
Doddridge County natives and Fairmont State alumni, Dwight and Tina Moore, have donated $26,000 for the establishment of a new scholarship at Fairmont State University.
“It is through the generosity of the Moore family that future students will be able to attend Fairmont State. They truly understand the importance of education in becoming productive citizens,” said Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett.
The Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will provide financial support for students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Moores are first generation college graduates, and both completed their studies at Fairmont State to prepare them for STEM related careers.
“Mr. and Mrs. Moore attribute their success to the education they received at Fairmont State and understand that scholarships are vital to student success,” according to Fairmont State Foundation Development Officer, Tori Anselene. “Establishing the Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will provide opportunities for STEM students to further develop their academic careers and make a great impact in their lives. We are so appreciative of the Moores for their support and generosity.”
Dwight, class of 1986, and Tina, class of 1987, have a keen understanding of the value of a college education, the importance of STEM professionals in the workforce and the demand for new grads in these fields.
“Fairmont State served us very well,” Dwight said. “My wife taught several scientific disciplines at the high school level for both Doddridge and Harrison County schools, including biology and chemistry. I taught drafting and industrial arts before serving as the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Doddridge County. We’ve both had fulfilling careers and we raised four successful children as well.”
Dwight credits the success that he and Tina have had to their choices to pursue higher education.
“Our lives have been so much fuller because we decided to attend Fairmont State. We understand the need for higher education and how this pursuit can change lives. By establishing this scholarship, we hope to share this with other students in STEM,” he added.
The Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will be available to Fairmont State University students with a minimum 3.0 grade point average, studying science, technology, engineering or math.
“There is great demand for STEM professionals in this region and across the nation,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Luckily, our region also has an abundance of potential STEM talent. The Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will help Fairmont State nurture and train that potential, provide unrivaled opportunity and support to those students, and graduate STEM professionals into the talent pipeline, keeping some of that homegrown talent right here in this great region. I’m so grateful to the Moores for their vision and their generosity.”
A Fairmont family has pledged $25,000 for the creation of a new scholarship at Fairmont State University in memory of Stephen Guentert, a Fairmont State alumnus who passed away in February of 2021. The Stephen L. Guentert Memorial Endowed Scholarship will provide financial support for computer science and cybersecurity students in the College of Science and Technology.
“What a wonderful gesture by the Guentert family to create this legacy in honor of Stephen,” said Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett. “This scholarship will provide the support so many of the students dearly need.”
Stephen Guentert, a husband and father of three, graduated from Fairmont State in 2001. He completed his degree in computer science, and went on to work as a software engineer. His wife Beverly and their children Isabella, Miranda and her husband Canon Fancher, and Isaak wish to continue his legacy and love for family with the Stephen L. Guentert Memorial Endowed Scholarship.
“He was an amazing father and husband who was always there for us no matter what,” said his daughter, Miranda Fancher. “In our household there was always an emphasis on how important our education is and how to build a future for our families.”
The Fairmont State Computer Science and Cybersecurity Programs are designed to provide students a broad range of theoretical foundations and hands-on learning opportunities in the field. These programs prepare graduates for a variety of careers including programming, systems analysis, software development, database administration and information security analysis.
“We chose to support computer science students at Fairmont State University because Stephen went to Fairmont State with the same goals in 1996. Going to college and providing for his family were a huge part of his life, so we wanted to contribute to another individual at the University with the same goals in his memory. We know he would be so proud to be able to help students at Fairmont State,” Fancher added.
The Stephen L. Guentert Memorial Endowed Scholarship will be available to Fairmont State University students with a minimum 3.0 grade point average, enrolled in a computer science or cybersecurity program.
“We are so grateful to Stephen’s family for this generous gift to the Falcon Family,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “This gift ensures that our excellent science and technology programs can not only ease the financial burden for deserving students, but they can also continue to meet the regional demand for top-notch computer science and cybersecurity professionals.”
Sidney and Judith Underwood of Parkersburg, West Virginia have pledged $27,000 to create a scholarship in memory of their son Eric, who passed away in July of 2020.
“The generous gift from the Underwoods is greatly appreciated. Their kind remembrance of their son will have a lasting benefit to Fairmont State students,” said Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett.
The Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship will provide support to full-time students in the College of Science and Technology at Fairmont State University.
“We choose to honor Eric with this scholarship because he would want future generations to continue to pursue advanced education in this field of study,” said the Underwoods. “As a young man, he collected model planes, ships and enjoyed watching trains. He loved drawing and it was natural that he studied drafting and engineering in college. Eric was fascinated with how machines, such as trains, worked. He studied them and could explain how the mechanics of their engines and brakes worked. As an avid rail fan and member of the B&O Historical Association, he also enjoyed riding all the scenic rail works of West Virginia. He loved music and learned to play guitar as an adult. He also enjoyed nature; hiking, riding bikes and taking photos. During his time at Fairmont State, Eric held great respect for his instructors and the educational standards at the University.”
Eric received an Engineering Technology degree from West Virginia University at Parkersburg before going on to complete a bachelor’s degree from Fairmont State in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 2018. He also earned a master’s degree in Technology Education from WVU. Eric was skilled in the areas of educational leadership and curriculum development.
“We are touched beyond words by the Underwood’s generosity,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Eric’s love for science and technology will not only live on through this gift, but it will also help us to continue to fill the need for qualified engineering professionals throughout this region and beyond. The Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship will honor Eric’s passion for science and technology, and it will ignite and nurture that same passion in future Falcons.”
The Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship will be available to Fairmont State University students enrolled full-time in the College of Science and Technology. Applicants must be West Virginia residents with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
“With the establishment of the Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship, Eric’s legacy will continue forever here at Fairmont State University,” said Fairmont State Foundation Development Officer, Tori Anselene. “Students pursuing a degree within the College of Science and Technology will greatly be impacted because of Judith and Sidney’s generosity.
The Fairmont State Black Student Union Alumni Association has created a new scholarship in support of the student organization they serve.
The Fairmont State University Black Student Union Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship will be available to active, working members of Fairmont State University’s Black Student Union. Qualifying students who are sophomores, juniors or seniors will demonstrate academic success, along with campus and community engagement in order to be eligible. Black Student Union Legacy members are also eligible for this scholarship.
“The Fairmont State Foundation is beyond grateful that the Black Student Union Alumni Association has come together to establish an endowment that will continue their mission in creating equal access to opportunities for students while enhancing student’s success,” said Fairmont State Foundation Development Officer, Tori Anselene. “I am excited for them to leave an everlasting legacy here at Fairmont State University for years to come.”
Fairmont State’s Black Student Union was established to foster open dialogue among students of color, the Student Government Association and school administration with the goal of creating equal access to opportunities. Additionally, the organization strives for fair educational, cultural and social acceptance at Fairmont State University.
“The creation of this endowment will support students who are working toward a future of diversity, equity and inclusion in education.” stated Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett.
From its inception in 1969, the Black Student Union has been active on campus and within the community. Black Student Union activities include leading the BSU Gospel Choir, holding events for Homecoming and offering special programs at local churches in celebration of Black History Month each year. The organization currently hosts programming to address and encourage African American and multicultural education.
“I feel that my college experience up until now would not have been the same without a group like BSU, so I am truly thankful for those that came before me,” said Fairmont State Black Student Union President, Peyton Barnes. “I am so very grateful for the Black Student Union Alumni Association for their kindness and generosity for a cause such as this one, and I hope it is able to impact students and their collegiate experience for many years to come.”
When asked why the Black Student Union Alumni Association chose to establish this scholarship, Jacqueline Dooley, President and Chair of the organization, explained, “The Black Student Union alumni want to offer a helping hand, reaching back to deserving youth to lift them up and aid in their academic success with this financial support.”
“The Black Student Union, through its members and activities, adds so much to the fabric of our Falcon Family,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “They deepen and expand our culture and strengthen the quality of our campus life. I’m so grateful to the Black Student Union Alumni Association, because through this endowed scholarship, they’re helping future generations of Falcons pursue their dreams as those students continue the work of the Black Student Union and enrich the lives of everyone at Fairmont State.”
The Fairmont State Black Student Union Alumni Association serves as a catalyst to reunite former students for social, cultural, educational and community experiences. The organization serves as mentors to current Black Student Union members at Fairmont State University in various academic disciplines to assist in career development opportunities.
Diversified Gas & Oil Co., the Birmingham, AL, company whose chief executive officer and co-founder is Fairmont State University graduate and Board of Governors member Rusty Hutson Jr., has committed an additional $50,000 in scholarships over five years to Fairmont State students.
“Diversified Gas & Oil strongly believes in supporting students who attend colleges in our operating areas and that are seeking to start careers in the gas and oil or related industries,” said Brad Gray, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We believe that the energy sector in the United States is strong and that it is a driver of economic prosperity for millions of people in the country. Our industry is a major factor in maintaining low energy costs for our country. At Diversified, we are very committed to our business operations in the Appalachian Basin.”
Diversified donated $30,000 in scholarships starting in 2019 for rising seniors earning a degree in a natural gas- and oil-focused major with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Each student selected receives a $2,500 scholarship for their senior year. The additional contribution will extend the scholarship program for five more years through 2026.
“The investment that Diversified is making in our students is tremendous,” said Julie R. Cryser, Fairmont State Foundation President. “We can’t thank Diversified and Mr. Hutson enough for their continued support of our Falcon Family.”
Gray said that for the gas and oil industry to continue to be productive, innovative and successful, it needs a consistent talent pool of qualified, local, educated young people. Gray stated that the industry not only needs traditional engineers but also needs talented technology, finance, safety and environmental employees to manage the complexity of operations.
“We can think of no better place from which to source this talent -- young people from our back yards, our high schools, our universities,” he said.
Fairmont State University President Mirta Martin noted that students will benefit greatly from these scholarships.
“For most of our students, paying for college is one of the most significant investments they and their families will ever undertake,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “But they know that they are really investing in themselves. It’s a sound investment, because Fairmont State graduates have a reputation for being highly skilled, hard-working and optimistic. And now with their generous scholarships, Diversified Gas & Oil and Rusty Hutson are also investing in our students, easing our students’ financial burdens, and allowing them to concentrate on academic success and graduation.”
DGOC views these scholarships as an investment in the communities in which they operate and investment in the lives and the futures of students preparing for a career in the industry.
Diversified is an operator of gas and oil producing assets. Its innovative, disciplined investment strategy is focused on the acquisition of mature, low-decline and low-risk wells, enhancement of operations with a focus on efficiency, and maximization of profitability for shareholders. Founded in 2001, Diversified has deep roots in the mineral-rich Appalachian United States.
Clarksburg native and president and co-founder of a private investment firm and his wife, an attorney, have developed a scholarship to support students from Harrison and Marion counties.
Bill and Mala Harker have established the Bill & Mala Harker Endowed Scholarship, which will provide scholarships to a Fairmont State University student with first preference to African American students and second preference to students of color from Harrison County and Marion County with at least a 2.5 grade point average.
“Having grown up in the Clarksburg area, I am keenly aware of how much Fairmont State and its graduates have given to the community,” Bill Harker said. “We have a number of friends who are Fairmont State alumni. We see this scholarship as an opportunity to give back to an institution that has indirectly enriched our lives.”
Bill Harker said the couple felt that their investment in West Virginia students might go farther in this state, as opposed to higher cost areas, and would potentially help people who are sometimes overlooked by other philanthropic activities.
“It is evident that even those who are not alumni of Fairmont State University understand its importance to the local community,” said Julie R. Cryser, president of the Fairmont State Foundation. “We can’t thank the Harker family enough for their support of our students, especially our students of color.”
Mala Harker’s father is a retired math professor who spent most of his career teaching at Southeast Missouri State University, a state school similar in many ways to Fairmont State. Her family was very active in the university community when she was growing up.
“Our family endowed a scholarship at SEMO a few years ago and we have seen the impact that such an investment can make on the lives of deserving young men and women,” Mala Harker said.
“We believe in funding scholarships because we believe that education is the great equalizer,” Bill Harker said. “Much of the professional success we each have achieved is directly related to the wonderful educations we received.”
William “Bill” R. Harker is president and co-founder of Ashe Capital Management, LP, a private investment firm. He is a graduate of West Virginia University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Mala Ahuja Harker is a partner and member of the management committee at the New York City law firm of Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP. She is a graduate of Washington University in St Louis and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
They reside in New Jersey with their two children.
“This generous gift from Bill and Mala Harker affirms the potency of our mission,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “We make a profound, real-world difference in the region, and we transform the lives of our students. Bill and Mala recognized the impact we make, and they have a deep appreciation for a university like Fairmont State. Through the Bill & Mala Harker Endowed Scholarship, they are supporting our mission to provide affordable, transformative educations to hard-working students, and we are so thankful to have them part of our Falcon Family.”
Long-time pilot and entrepreneur Don Judy has established a scholarship for Fairmont State University students seeking their commercial pilots license, the first of its kind at Fairmont State.
Judy, a sawmill owner who has been flying since the 1960s, retired in March after 30 years as a designated pilot examiner.
“I have examined the students at Fairmont for 20 years and have seen many students go on to become airline and corporate pilots,” Judy said. “I have no immediate family, and I have always enjoyed helping young people to fly.”
The Don Judy Commercial Flight Scholarship will assist Fairmont State University students in the Professional Flight Program in the School of Business & Aviation’s Department of Aviation who are West Virginia residents seeking post instrument rating commercial flight training (commercial, multi-engine or CFI). Students must possess a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher to be considered.
“I love how wide the wings of our Falcon Family stretch,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “Our family is not only comprised of current students, staff, and alumni, but also our wider community and friends of the University all around the world. This includes dear friends like Don Judy, who believe in and support our mission to provide an affordable, transformative education. With his generous gift, Don is ensuring that more and more Fairmont State University students will be able to literally soar.”
The Professional Flight Option at Fairmont State University is one option of the three program options offered under the Aviation Center of Excellence. Students admitted to this selective program can gain a bachelor’s in Aviation Technology with an emphasis in business in aviation while simultaneously completing the flight hours and training required to obtain their private, instrument and commercial ratings.
The main objective of the Professional Flight Option at Fairmont State University is to educate aspiring pilots to be well rounded and complete aviation professionals. Our goal is to graduate not just a pilot but an exceptional aviator and student overall.
“This scholarship will assist West Virginia students, and Mr. Judy’s generosity will be felt for years to come,” said Fairmont State Foundation President Julie Cryser. “This is the first scholarship for the program and provides students with the ability to focus on the program and becoming exceptional pilots.”
Judy was born in Dry Fork, WV. He first experienced the wonder of aviation at the age of five in a Bonanza aircraft. His father maintained a grass strip on their farmland and his love for aviation thrived. After receiving his private pilot certificate in 1962, he continued receiving additional ratings through his hard work and dedication.
Judy’s ratings range from Single Engine Land and Sea to Multi Engine Land and Sea, Rotorcraft, as well as Glider. He is a certified flight instructor on all the previously mentioned aircraft classifications and holds an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate with Inspection Authority (IA) designation. Serving as a Designated Pilot Examiner Mr. Judy has issued nearly 2000 FAA certifications to aspiring pilots before retiring in March 2020.
In addition to assisting others pursue their dreams in aviation, Judy restores aircraft, having overseen 10 complete aircraft rebuilds. He is also talented in the art of recovering fabric aircraft; a form in which few are currently proficient.
Judy is the recipient of the 2010 Wilbur Wright Award, having been accident-free for 50 years; a testimonial to Judy’s superior skillset. In 2016, Judy received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award for having been an airframe and powerplant mechanic for 50 years. He has also been inducted into the West Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.
“The Donald Judy WV Aviation Scholarship aspires to carry on and manifest Mr. Judy’s love for aviation well into future generations,” said Joel Kirk, who leads the Fairmont State Aviation Program. “The intent of this scholarship is to provide assistance and inspiration to an aspiring, exceptional and promising flight student from and within his home state of West Virginia. Additionally, the goal of this award is to aid an applicant who despite demonstrating extraordinary work ethic, might not otherwise be in a position to afford advanced training.”
In 2017, Mr. Judy was a key player in helping the Fairmont State University restructure into the Aviation Center of Excellence. That year the “ACE” obtained its permanent 14 CFR part 141 status becoming the first in the State of West Virginia. This could not have happened without Mr. Judy’s relentless effort to always be available to give FAA practical examinations in a timely manner.
“I have always said that what you give to others returns 10-fold to you,” Judy said.