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Spirit of West Virginia Scholarship

Funded by
1 winner$750
Application Deadline
Mar 15, 2024
Winners Announced
Apr 15, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Must attend school in West Virginia
Education Level:
Must be a senior in high school

Many students are deterred from seeking a college education due to the rising costs of a degree.

Student loan debt has reached a record $1.7 trillion in the United States alone. There are 45 million Americans who hold student loan debt, and the increasing costs of tuition and housing will only increase the number of students who turn to loans to finance their education.

The educational picture is even worse in West Virginia, which has the lowest rate of college-educated people in the United States.

As one small way to support education in West Virginia, the Spirit of West Virginia Scholarship exists to inspire students to prioritize their education and to alleviate some of the financial burden of their pursuit.

Any high school senior who attends school in West Virginia may apply for this scholarship. 

To apply, tell us what being a West Virginian means to you or how growing up in West Virginia has impacted your worldview.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published September 19, 2023
Essay Topic

What does it mean to you to be a West Virginian or how has growing up in West Virginia shaped your view of the world?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Cassandra Burch
Spring Mills High SchoolMartinsburg, WV
W ild and wonderful E nchanting landscape S pirited hard workers T raditions V alues I ndependent R ugged G enerations I ncredible community N atural resources I deal location A lmost heaven West Virginia has been my cherished home since birth, where the towering mountains echo with tales of a rich history that has profoundly influenced my worldview. Generations of my family toiled in coal mines and on railroads, their labor fueling both our needs and the nation's progress. Much like coal itself, our state may bear the marks of its rugged origins, but beneath its surface lies an enduring strength that has powered our nation's growth and resilience through countless struggles. Born from adversity, West Virginia is akin to raw coal. But, placing it under even more heat and pressure would shape it into something even more uniquely precious, a diamond. Our rugged terrain and compassionate community members reflect this innate resilience, casting our state into its own shimmering light. To me, being West Virginian means cherishing our natural resources, standing steadfastly by one another, and remaining fiercely loyal to our beloved home. West Virginia encompasses more than just majestic mountains and cascading waterfalls; it boasts mouthwatering apples and awe-inspiring bridges. While our landscapes are undeniably stunning, even the smaller wonders like wildflowers and tiny frogs hold their own charm amidst our grandeur. Living here has taught me to appreciate life's finer details. Our state is steeped in a fiery spirit of independence, evident from our historic break from Virginia during the Civil War to combat slavery. This legacy inspires me to forge my own path and make independent life choices. I take pride in being part of a state founded on principles of autonomy and steadfast loyalty. In West Virginia, loyalty extends beyond just family ties; it permeates our communities. Whether it's through familial support or neighborly acts of kindness, we stand by one another. My mother's dedication to teaching locally, despite better prospects elsewhere, exemplifies this commitment to giving back to our home. Yet, poverty remains a pressing issue here, with many children relying on school meals as their main source of food. Volunteering at my local food bank is one way I contribute, but it's a small part of a larger challenge. Growing up amidst such hardships has instilled in me a sense of gratitude for what I have and a desire to make a difference. The resilience and diligence of West Virginians drives me to work harder, mirroring the dedication of those in blue-collar professions who tirelessly provide for their families. Aspiring to become a physical therapist and serve my community locally is my way of honoring their hard work and addressing the healthcare needs in our area. Living in West Virginia offers a unique connection to nature and a perspective shaped by our surroundings. Positioned amidst several states, we welcome visitors with our captivating landscapes and warm hospitality. Our state's resourcefulness, independence, and communal spirit are the bedrock of our success, and I'm privileged to call Almost Heaven my home.
Samuel Felinton
Huntington High SchoolHuntington, WV
Growing up in West Virginia has had a profound impact on my life and has shaped my view of the world in many ways. To me, being a West Virginian means being part of a unique community that values hard work, perseverance, and a strong sense of place. One of the defining characteristics of West Virginia is its natural beauty. From the rolling hills to the winding rivers, the state is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country. Growing up surrounded by this natural beauty taught me to appreciate the world around me and to value the importance of preserving it for future generations. Another aspect of being a West Virginian that has influenced me is the state's strong sense of community. West Virginians are known for their hospitality and kindness, and this has been reflected in my own life. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other, and people looked out for each other. This sense of community has taught me the value of helping others and working together to achieve common goals. Perhaps one of the most important lessons I have learned from growing up in West Virginia is the importance of hard work and perseverance. The state has a long history of coal mining and other forms of manual labor, and this has instilled in me a strong work ethic and a determination to succeed. I have seen firsthand the challenges that come with living in a state that is often overlooked by the rest of the country, and this has taught me to be resilient and to never give up in the face of adversity. In addition to these lessons, growing up in West Virginia has also given me a unique perspective on the world. The state's rural character and limited economic opportunities have made me acutely aware of the challenges facing many people in this country. I have seen how poverty and lack of access to resources can have a devastating impact on individuals and families, and this has fueled my passion for social justice and equity. At the same time, growing up in West Virginia has also shown me the beauty and potential of rural communities. Despite the challenges they face, these communities are home to some of the most hardworking, resourceful, and resilient people I have ever met. They have taught me the value of society, the importance of self-sufficiency, and the power of collective action. Being a West Virginian has also taught me the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. The state has a rich history of music, art, and literature, and these traditions are deeply intertwined with the state's natural beauty and rural character. From bluegrass music to quilt making, these cultural traditions are an integral part of what makes West Virginia unique. In conclusion, being a West Virginian means being part of a community that values hard work, perseverance, and a strong sense of place. Growing up in West Virginia has taught me important lessons about the world and has shaped my perspective on social justice, equity, and the potential of rural communities. It has also shown me the beauty of our cultural traditions and the importance of preserving them for future generations. Despite the challenges facing the state, I am proud to call myself a West Virginian and to be part of a community that is so full of resilience, resourcefulness, and compassion.
Emma Flynn
Cabell Midland High SchoolBarboursville, WV
To me being a West Virginian is not just physically residing within the state but also the state of mind and experiences. As the second poorest state in the country, according to, West Virginia is a place where poverty is everywhere. Living here means seeing homelessness and addiction anywhere you go with government officials promising better conditions. It's one thing to read about poverty online and feel empathy for a few moments and another to see poverty first hand with people struggling to make ends meet with families and children. I believe this is what sparks the personality that many tourists claim we have, with so many people in need we just want to help and have this caring attitude compared to other states. Being a West Virginian means being able to adapt, like the recent ice storms in Cabell County that left hundreds without power for weeks. Many had to find ways to cook food or travel the slick roads with no power or WiFi. Even before the ice storms roads, especially those leading to less populated areas, were very poorly made. There are often potholes or pieces of the road cracking off that take months to be tended to. As a West Virginian you learn that there is poverty everywhere, the media portrays this as a foreign concept when in reality you can just drive five minutes down the road and view it. I think living in West Virginia has changed my view of the world because you get to see that not everyone has the same quality of life as you. It humbles a lot of people and makes you grateful for what you have seeing people who have very little who are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. West Virginia hasn't just affected me this way, but also with nature and my respect for it. With living in the country you spend a lot of time outside interacting with nature. Wildlife is everywhere and a big part of the environment here leading you to have an appreciation of it. I understand that I share the world with others and need to take care of the environment which relates to the world as a whole. Growing up in West Virginia has helped me to realize hard work because I am constantly surrounded by people who go into work every day and do the best they can whether they work at a gas station or as a doctor to help out their community. You always see programs attempting to help those in need such as ECHO or food drives and help you understand that helping others is better than doing nothing no matter how small the action.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Mar 15, 2024. Winners will be announced on Apr 15, 2024.

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