The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, West Virginia University, has received a gift from Joseph R. and Stefi Poluck Biafora, of Northridge, Calif., to establish an endowed fund named the Frank and Bernardina Biafora Scholarship. The endowment, which is administered by the WVU Foundation Inc., will support at least one Deans Leadership Scholarship annually.
The purpose of the Deans Leadership Scholarship program is to enhance the Eberly Colleges efforts at recruiting and retaining some of WVU s the best undergraduate students, to encourage academic excellence and to mentor and support students with leadership capabilities.
The Frank and Bernardina Biafora Scholarship will support at least one rising freshman or sophomore majoring in an arts and sciences discipline who has demonstrated academic potential, financial need and leadership ability or promise. In addition, the recipient should be demonstrating a commitment to serving the community through extracurricular activities. Preference will be given to students majoring in political science.
The scholarship is named in honor of Frank and Bernardina Biafora, immigrants from the small town of San Giovanni in Fiore, in southern Italy. Frank Biafora came to America in 1903 and settled in north-central West Virginia. He worked in the coal mines of Hutchinson, W.Va., until a disastrous cave in. He then entered real estate and bought a hotel, known as the Clark Hotel, in Clarksburg.
Bernardina Adamos parents owned a small cafin the piazza of San Giovanni in Fiore. She was 19 when she immigrated to the United States in 1911. She traveled with her married sister Maria Folio and husband, Salvatore Folio. Her younger brother Robert also immigrated with them.
Frank and Bernardina married in 1911 and raised eight children together, the youngest being Joseph Robert Biafora. Through his parents hard work, foresight, and sacrifice, Joseph became the first in his family to attend college. He graduated from WVU in 1942 with a degree in political science.
He served and was severely wounded in World War II. He had one year of law school completed at WVU when he was commissioned from the ROTC and placed on active duty in 1942. When he returned, the WVU School of Law was closed. He completed his law degree at the University of Southern California. Biafora practiced law in California from 1947 to 1994. He and his wife have been married 59 years, and they raised six children, all college graduates. They also have eight grandchildren.
The Biafora Familys success story is beautifully representative of the immigrant experience in American during the 20th century,said M. Duane Nellis, dean of the Eberly College.It is heartwarming to now see Frank and Bernadinas youngest son and his wife now is a financial position to help future generations of WVU students.
The WVU Foundation Inc. is a private non-profit organization, which develops, receives, and administers private gifts from individuals and organizations for the benefit of West Virginia University. The Biafora gift is included in the Building Greatness Campaign, which has raised more than $270 million for WVU and concludes in December 2003.