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WVWC president Dr. Joel Thierstein with the 2022 West Virginia Scholar Program winner Julia McCoy.
WVWC president Dr. Joel Thierstein with the 2022 West Virginia Scholar Program winner Julia McCoy.

‘They called my name, and it was just amazing’: 2022 West Virginia Scholar selected

BUCKHANNON – Julia McCoy of Ravenswood was dubbed the 2022 West Virginia Scholar.

The announcement was made Wednesday, June 23 during the West Virginia Scholar Program Luncheon at West Virginia Wesleyan College’s French A. See Dining Hall, where all 15 finalists gathered to see who earned the life-changing scholarship.

According to a press release from West Virginia Wesleyan College, upon her enrollment for the Fall 2022 semester, as the winner of the 14th annual West Virginia Scholar Program competition, McCoy will receive a full four-year scholarship to Wesleyan that will cover the cost of tuition, fees, room and board.

“I will be majoring in either nursing or physical therapy, which in the long run, I’ll probably be going to physical therapy or even medical school,” McCoy said following the highly anticipated announcement. “I was planning for my four-year degrees, but now I have a full ride for four years, so I can actually plan ahead now for the extra four years in medical school or physical therapy.’’

A rising senior at Ravenswood High School, McCoy is an honor roll student and a 4-H leader who was named 4-H Member of the Year. In addition to playing volleyball, leading the tennis team as captain, and being tapped as a member of the National Honor Society, she has served as Student Council secretary for three years, according to the Wesleyan press release.

McCoy said she did not anticipate winning the coveted scholarship.

All 15 finalists of the 2022 West Virginia Scholar Program with WVWC president Dr. Joel Thierstein.

“I had been talking all week about keeping my hopes down, and everybody kept telling me not to do that, and I was like, ‘well then, I won’t be as disappointed,’ but I had never prepared to win it,” McCoy said. “I never prepared myself for how to react, and I was just thinking about how great it would be, but every time I did, I would just say, ‘no, it’s okay if I don’t win.’”

McCoy said she had been reminding herself that even if she wasn’t chosen, she could still attend Wesleyan and earn other scholarships there.

“I was thinking about the scholarships and [I thought] even if I don’t get this, I could still go to Wesleyan with the other scholarships,” McCoy recounted. “And then they called my name, and it was just amazing – it was a weight off my shoulders.”

McCoy said it was her counselor’s idea to apply for the scholarship.

“I knew about Buckhannon and Wesleyan because my aunt lives in Buckhannon, and I’ve always known about Wesleyan,” she said, “but I just knew it was a private college, it was a very nice college, and I knew it as a nice Methodist college because I’m a Methodist, but I never thought I’d be able to go here.”

“I heard about the scholarship from my counselor, and she was so excited when I told her I was going to apply for it and then my principal told me I was a finalist and everyone in my town was very excited for me,” McCoy added.

According to the Wesleyan press release, Keely Gregory, of Bruceton Mills, was selected as the first runner-up and will receive a $5,000 scholarship, and the second runner-up, Danica Propst, of Martinsburg, will receive a $2,500 scholarship.

John Waltz, WVWC vice president for enrollment management, said all the finalists had earned a Presidential Scholarship to Wesleyan.

From left to right, Mark McCoy, Julia McCoy and Rebecca McCoy. The 2022 West Virginia Scholar Program winner with her parents

“When we have housing options like our premium housing, we will guarantee placement for finalists in the West Virginia Scholar Program – that’s a long-standing tradition,” Waltz said, “and probably most importantly, rather than our normal $17,000 Presidential Scholarship that all students receive, you will be receiving an $18,000 Presidential Scholarship for all finalists.”

“All of you will receive an award like that from West Virginia Wesleyan,” he told the finalists.

Wesleyan president Dr. Joel Thierstein said all the finalists should consider themselves some of the best students in the state.

“This is a great day for everybody who’s here,” Thierstein remarked. “This is a fantastic program – the West Virginia Scholar Program – and you all are the best of the best.”

Hoppy Kercheval with West Virginia MetroNews.
Hoppy Kercheval with West Virginia MetroNews.

Thierstein said if he had personally been tasked with picking a winner, he would have had a difficult time narrowing down the finalists.

“I got a chance to look at some of the applications and I don’t get a vote, thank goodness, because I don’t know how I could distinguish between the amazing group of young people here,” he said. “We are so proud and honored to have you on our campus.”

Jim Kaufman, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association, said the 15 finalists have the potential to create opportunities in the future for students like themselves.

“This is a scholarship that does change lives, but I’ve got one piece of advice for you – opportunity doesn’t stop with you,” Kaufman said. “You’re creating the next opportunity because think about it: 10 or 15 years from now, you’ll be standing here as the future leaders of West Virginia, and you’ll be creating opportunities for the kids sitting in these seats, waiting to hear if they’re the scholarship winner.”

Hoppy Kercheval, well-known radio host and commentator with West Virginia MetroNews, asked the finalists to use their talents, gifts and work ethic in the Mountain State to become the future of West Virginia.

“I want to make a pitch for West Virginia,” Kercheval said, addressing the finalists directly. “One of the great things about where you are is you can go anywhere and you can do anything – and you should, the whole world is open to you – but we’d love to have you here.”

“West Virginia needs bright young minds. There’s tremendous opportunity in this state and you can make a home here and you can make a life here, and you can make a career here,” Kercheval added. “Whatever you decide to do, I hope at some point you’ll consider making that here in West Virginia. Congratulations to all of you. We’re very proud of you, we’re very proud of what you’ve accomplished, and you have some great years ahead.”

The average GPA of this year’s finalists was 3.9, and all 15 finalists will receive the Presidential Scholarship – WVWC’s top academic scholarship for new students – should they choose to attend Wesleyan for the Fall 2022 semester, according to the Wesleyan press release.

From left to right, first runner-up Keely Gregory, 2022 West Virginia Scholar Program winner Julia McCoy and second runner-up Danica Propst.
From left to right, first runner-up Keely Gregory, 2022 West Virginia Scholar Program winner Julia McCoy and second runner-up Danica Propst.

The finalists present at Wednesday’s special luncheon were chosen from among more than 60 W.Va. Scholar Program applicants hailing from 28 West Virginia counties. In addition to Wesleyan and MetroNews, the program’s sponsors include Friends of Coal, High Technology Foundation, Lou Wendell Marine Sales, the West Virginia Farm Bureau, the West Virginia Hospital Association and ZMM Architects & Engineers.

Finalists are ranked by WVWC, the W.Va. Scholar Program’s sponsors and online voting, and applications for the program are usually accepted beginning in February, according to information from Wesleyan.

The finalists for the 2022 West Virginia Scholar program include:

  • Reagan Boggess of Culloden, West Virginia
  • Cole Clendenin of Clendenin, West Virginia
  • Kyra Cook of Buckhannon, West Virginia
  • Isabella Elkins of South Charleston, West Virginia
  • Makenzie Fultineer of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Keely Gregory of Bruceton Mills, West Virginia
  • Trinity Hamilton of Tallmansville, West Virginia
  • Kristen Hicks of Parsons, West Virginia
  • Edward Marks of Wellsburg, West Virginia
  • Josie Martin of Wheeling, West Virginia
  • Julia McCoy of Ravenswood, West Virginia
  • Layla McFann of Ona, West Virginia
  • Hayden Pack of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Danica Propst of Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Emilee Teter of Circleville, West Virginia
Jim Kaufman, president and CEO of West Virginia Hospital Association.
Jim Kaufman, president and CEO of West Virginia Hospital Association.

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