After a successful pilot year, the Virginia Western Community Educational Foundation expanded the Fralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship program, doubling the number of recipients for 2020-21.
Twenty-six students were named to the 2020-21 Fralin Scholars cohort and will receive financial and academic resources to assist them in completing their final semesters at Virginia Western and graduating as planned.
The Fralin Futures STEM-H Scholarship program launched in fall 2019 with 12 outstanding students in science, technology, math, engineering and the health professions. Of that initial cohort, 11 graduated by summer 2020, with the 12th student still enrolled at Virginia Western.
“We are incredibly happy to see the Foundation’s most prestigious scholarship start with such success,” said Amanda Mansfield, Educational Foundation Philanthropy Director. She noted that a survey of scholarship recipients showed 83 percent were uncertain they could have completed on time without the Fralin funding. In addition, half of the students said they used the support to meet unexpected and critical expenses that might have forced them to leave school.
“What may be even more meaningful,” Mansfield said, “is the added program benefits of cohort activities.” All of the students said they were more likely to pursue leadership opportunities in the future, after attending a Fralin-sponsored leadership training. Ninety-one percent said they were more or much more likely to pursue mentorship opportunities in the future, due to their experience as a Fralin Scholar.
Funded through an endowment from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust, the scholarship is meant to not only help recipients complete their degrees, but also to assist them in finding well-paying and engaging careers within STEM-H fields.
The idea for the program was sparked in 2017, when the Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for College scholarships, conducted a campuswide listening tour with faculty and staff. Vice President of Institutional Advancement Marilyn Herbert-Ashton said a number of staff members pointed out that sudden misfortune could easily derail students, especially adult learners. Unexpected bills, job loss, a lack of transportation, child and elder care are among the common challenges that can force an otherwise promising student to drop out.
Herbert-Ashton said those responses were not surprising. Nearly one-third of Virginia Western students are over age 25, and most juggle full- or part-time jobs in addition to their class schedules. Some are single parents, or are responsible for the care of aging relatives; a number are the first in their family to pursue a postsecondary education.
By covering the cost of a recipient’s final two semesters, the Fralin Futures program eases one of the major burdens that can make completing a degree seem daunting. Recipients receive an additional stipend each semester equal to their tuition, which can defray unexpected costs that might come up during a student’s final year.
In addition to receiving the scholarship support, Fralin Scholars are paired with mentors and receive the opportunity to attend relevant professional and educational events, both within and outside of Virginia. Programming in fall 2020 will be conducted virtually, with Zoom sessions connecting students to mentors, leadership training and counseling from the Hall Associates Career Center at Virginia Western.
The following students are part of the 2020-21 cohort:
Kimberly Archer, Nursing
Alexis Bedrosian, Nursing
Kaitlyn Bowman, Radiation Oncology
Raistlin Brabson, Mechatronics System Engineering Technology
Tuan Chau, Computer Science/Engineering
Meredith Dobyns, Radiation Oncology
Christina Fiedler, Nursing
Raegan Glenn, Dental Hygiene
Kristine Harper, Practical Nursing
Lorenzo Hernandez-Suarez, Mechatronics System Engineering Technology
Allyson Herriges, Health Sciences
Alicia Hibbs, Practical Nursing
Trevor Hill, Science
Gabriel Johnson, Engineering
Madeline Jones, Database and Program Development
Macie Killen, Mechatronics System Engineering Technology
Sara Kingery, Dental Hygiene
Carrie Lawson, Practical Nursing
Mackenzie Massey, Science
William McCoy, Computer Science
Giovanna Morabito, Dental Hygiene
Kira Shelor, Computer Science
Sarah Snyder, Radiography
Selma Sosic, Health Sciences
Rory Underwood, Engineering
Deana Valade, Nursing
Fralin Futures scholarship applications for the 2021-22 academic year will be accepted starting in March 2021. To qualify, students must have a 3.0 GPA in a STEM-H program of study at Virginia Western and be within two semesters of graduating. For more information, visit www.virginiawestern.edu/fralinfutures.