Donors boost scholarship support for students via ‘We Are Stronger Together’ initiative

As families nationwide face financial challenges due to COVID-19, nearly 240 West Virginia University students in need are receiving timely scholarship support thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends.

As of mid-October, 236 WVU students had been awarded $266,502 in scholarships provided through “We Are Stronger Together,” a special fundraising initiative launched by the WVU Foundation. Contributions to the ongoing effort assist WVU students affected by the pandemic with tuition, room and board, and other educational expenses.

Since early August, the number of students who have benefited from the initiative has more than tripled as scholarship gifts increased.

Charleston-area businessman Robert O. “Bob” Orders is among the “We Are Stronger Together” contributors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from WVU’s Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in 1972.

“When I first heard about the ‘We Are Stronger Together’ scholarship initiative, I questioned the timing given this pandemic and associated economic decline,” Orders said. “But, after further consideration, my wife, Ann, and I decided that, for those of us with the means, this is exactly the right time to give to this important WVU scholarship program. We must support those students who have found themselves in critical need of the funds to continue their higher education.”

Two-time WVU School of Nursing alumna Natalie F. Bush, of McLean, Virginia, noted that scholarships are critical to ensure that students adversely impacted by COVID-19 can proceed with their education.

“WVU is a special place to me. It’s where I received a foundation to start a career and launch into the world,” Bush said. “I’m grateful for this foundation, and I want to help other students have the same opportunity. I encourage each of you to support the ‘We Are Stronger Together’ initiative and help other students have a chance at a better life.”

Bush and Orders are longtime supporters of the University who serve on the WVU Foundation Board of Directors.

WVU freshman Skye Pacelt is among several “We Are Stronger Together” scholarship recipients who expressed appreciation for generous gifts from donors like Orders and Bush.

“I would not be able to go here or afford school at all if I had not gotten the scholarships people gave me from WVU,” Pacelt said.

Donations to the “We Are Stronger Together” scholarship initiative can be made by contacting Jena Prokopchuk, WVU Foundation executive director of leadership annual giving, at 304-282-5929 or jprokopchuk@wvuf.org, or online via a secure giving webpage.

Students who believe they qualify should contact the Mountaineer Hub and submit an online ticket requesting assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WVU Office of Financial Aid oversees awarding scholarships for all WVU students in accordance with each student’s aid eligibility.

All gifts to the “We are Stronger Together” initiative are made through the Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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