Jackie Bass, a senior finance and Spanish major from St. Albans, has been selected as one of 40 Marshall Scholars nationwide. She is only the second West Virginia University student to earn the prestigious award.
Funded by the British government to express gratitude for the American Marshall Plan after World War II, the Marshall Scholarship provides for two years of study at any British university and enables American students to gain an understanding and appreciation of British culture and British academic values. One of the goals of the Marshall Scholarship program is to create long-lasting ties between the Unites States and the United Kingdom. The scholarship package is valued at approximately $52,000.
A 1996 graduate of Charleston Catholic High School, Bass hopes to complete two masters degrees in international studies at the University of Birmingham or the University of Manchester. Her ultimate plan is to attend law school, specializing in either civil rights or business.
“Ive always had more of an inclination toward civil rights; Ive always been very passionate about fighting for the rights of my culture and my people,”says Bass, who also realizes there are other ways she could serve her community.”Ive thought about getting a law degree and using it more in the business arena instead of constitutional and civil rights. I had this epiphany: If a lot of our talented black youth end up going toward civil rights and constitutional law, thats great and wonderful, but one area we need to focus on is economicsmoney and businessso maybe I would do more for my community by going that route.”
Bass has received numerous awards at WVU , including the prestigious Foundation Scholar award presented annually to only five West Virginia high school seniors.
Marilyn Bendena, chair of WVUs Marshall Scholarship screening committee, recalls meeting Bass during her Foundation Scholar interview.
“I was on the committee that interviewed Jackie four years ago for the scholarship, and after listening to the way she answered questions, I knew she would get the Marshall. I just had a feeling about her; so Ive just been waiting these four years for this,”says Bendena.
In the meantime, Bass has distinguished herself as a scholar and a campus leader. She was named WVUs 1999 Africana Studies Student of the Year and is a National Science Foundation Fellow for 1999-2000.
She was also named an Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Scholar and is a member of the Eberly College Student Advisory Board.
“Shes very gifted academically,”notes Katherine Bankole, Director of the Center for Black Culture and Research.”She should be very proud of her efforts because shes worked really hard at this University.”
WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. added:”I am so proud of Jackie personally, and the University overall for the way we help young people shine academically.”
Bass also serves as a Resident Assistant and is a member of Golden Key, Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi and the Organization of Africana Students. Besides her two major courses of study, Bass will also earn a certificate in Africana Studies.
Her commitment to improving her Spanish language skills and her understanding of Hispanic culture also led her to study abroad courses in Spain, Cuba and Mexico.
“Typically its students at Ivy League schools who get most of these awards. For us, as a state-supported school, to get this award is a double honor,”explains Bendena.
“I am extremely proud of Jackie and her many accomplishments. This extraordinary honor is well-deserved,”said M. Duane Nellis, Dean of the Eberly College.”She will be an outstanding ambassador for WVU and the state of West Virginia, and regardless of the field Jackie decides to pursue, I know that she will make a major impact.”
She is the daughter of Priscilla and William Bass, Jr. of St. Albans. Her grandparents are Johnnie and Betty Johnson of Beckley and Ethel Bass of the Bronx, N.Y.
Bass credits her parents and grandparents for instilling in her the value of education.
Her maternal grandparentsthe Johnsonsraised seven children in the coalfields just outside of Beckley, and all seven worked their way through college and are now doctors, ministers, CPA ’s and other professionals.
WVUs only other Marshall Scholar, Lisa DiBartolomeo of Morgantown, won the award in 1991 and spent two years studying at the University of Glasgow. She has since received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Poland, and currently teaches Russian with Bendena in the Department of Foreign Languages while working to obtain grants to finish her doctoral thesis.