They want to develop sustainability strategies to repair the planet, teach the future of the world, develop regenerating or prosthetic organsand most of all be Mountaineers. They are West Virginia Universitys 2009 class of Foundation Scholars.

Five of the states top high school students were introduced Thursday (May 7) as recipients of the Universitys highest academic honorthe Foundation Scholarship. Gov. Joe Manchin, interim WVU President C. Peter Magrath and WVU Foundation President R. Wayne King honored the scholars during a ceremony at the state Capitol Complex in Charleston.

The award, which provides full tuition to the University for four years and is valued at approximately $68,000 when paired with the states PROMISE Scholarship, recognizes studentsleadership and academic potential.

In addition to tuition and fees, the scholarship covers studentsroom and board, personal expenses and books for all four years. The award also includes a $3,500 stipend for academic enhancement, which is commonly used for study abroad, internships and other advanced learning opportunities.

WVU s 2009 Foundation Scholars are Rebecca Posa of Kearneysville, Jefferson County; Sara Swanson of Mount Clare, Harrison County; Lucas Pennock of Mineral Wells, Wood County; Amanda Thorp of Weirton, Hancock County; and Robert Guy of Wheeling, Ohio County.

Manchin recognized the studentspotential and praised them for their success.

I commend the hard work, academic excellence and commitment to their futures that these five students have shown,Manchin said.The West Virginia University Foundation Scholarship is very prestigious, and I know these young people will take full advantage of this opportunity they have been granted by furthering their education and pursuing career goals. I look forward to many more accomplishments by these bright and talented West Virginians.

Magrath also offered his congratulations to the students and welcomed them to WVU .

These students demonstrate incredible academic ability, proven leadership skills and an intense dedication to help the community through service,Magrath said.I feel privileged and honored to welcome them to West Virginia University and have full confidence that they will continue to better themselves and the state though academic study, leadership and service.

The Foundation Scholarship is the most prestigious award offered by WVU s undergraduate scholarship program, which annually benefits more than 5,500 in excess of $10 million. Since the program was established in 1987, 115 of the states brightest high school students have been awarded the Universitys most selective scholarship.

On behalf of my colleagues at the WVU Foundation, I congratulate these outstanding students for their many accomplishments,King said.Providing scholarship opportunities for students through private support is very important. We strongly believe that our donorsinvestment in students, especially those we honor today, will produce great benefits for our state and nation in the future.

The WVU Foundation Scholars are chosen from a group of 20 students, who were awarded the Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship, valued at more than $24,000 for four years. After receiving the Bucklew scholarship, the students are invited to campus for a day of rigorous interviews. Of the 20, five are chosen.

The students must be from West Virginia, have a minimum 3.8 GPA and achieve a composite score of 30 on the ACT or 1,340 on the SAT college entrance exams.

Meet WVU s 2009 class of Foundation Scholars:

After visiting WVU and touring its campus, Rebecca Posa, of Kearneysville, says shes not worried about fitting in.

Ive been impressed with everyone Ive met at the University and the way they conduct themselves,she said.This isnt an elitist institution; these are down-to-earth, good people.

Posa is also a good fit academically.

She is first in her class of 388 at Jefferson High School and is a National Merit finalist and an AP Rising Scholar. She plans to pursue a major in biology at WVU and hopes to conduct research and possibly work in a field involving environmental science or environmental protection. Developing new sustainability strategies is crucial for the future of the planet, she says.

We ruined it; we can fix it,she said, referring to the earths sorely-taxed ecology.

Although shes enjoyed considerable success in the classroom, she has faced some of her biggest challenges and enjoyed some of her most satisfying successes outside the academic setting.

Each year, she accompanies a church group to Webster County to help poor families rebuild and repair their homes. Participants are divided into crews and given a project to complete for the week. The work is tough but gratifying, she says.

Posas other community activities include serving as a counselor at a nature camp for youth, reading to children and serving meals and providing companionship to seniors as part of a youth group and 4-H. She is heavily involved in the Summit Point Busy Bee 4-H, serving as vice president and treasurer the past two years and as part or chair of several committees. She has won blue ribbons for local projects four straight years.

Posa also plays piano for fun and with the school band.

Its through her many activities she has developed a diverse cross section of friends. She says she admires many of them because of their commitment.

I have a lot of friends who are involved in a lot of different things,she said.Theyre really passionate about the things theyre involved in and not afraid about what people say.

She admires similar qualities in leaders like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, whom she lists as heroes.

They were able to get things done but not by bullying or violence,she said.They got things done using unconventional ways.

She says receiving the Foundation Scholarship is agreat honorfor herself and her family.

She is the daughter of Franco and Mary Posa.

Volunteering at a local hospital had quite an effect on Sara Swanson of Mount Clare.

Not only did it spark one of the more meaningful projects in her life, but it also helped shape her main academic and career pursuit.

Swanson, ranked first in her class at Bridgeport High School, will major in engineering at WVU with the long-term goal of being a biomedical engineer. She hopes to research and develop regenerating or prosthetic organs.

Id like to get them to people who need them quickly so they wont have be placed on a waiting list for months at a time,she said.

Swanson has volunteered at the United Hospital Center in Clarksburg, where shes talked to patients and brought them food, and at the Meadowbrook Church of Christ, where she served food to the homeless and visited the sick.

Seeing and talking with patients inspired her to coordinate a blood drive at her school. The goal was to create a relaxed atmosphere to help students overcome any fear of donating blood.

We set up in the school library and used sheets to partition off parts of the room so students could have a quiet, private setting,she said.We wanted to make the environment as comfortable as possible, so if they gave blood and had a good experience, theyd continue to give blood in the future.

Swanson also tutored her fellow students in a variety of subjects and is an active member of the National Honor Society, student council, marching band and Key Club. She has taken advanced high school courses in English, psychology and calculus, and she says shesgrown up around WVU , attending sports and other events.

It seems like a family-type environment that I wont get lost in,she said.

Swanson is particularly impressed with WVU s Honors College.

The Honors College is interested in your success and helping you make the most of many opportunities,she said.They provide a support system.

Im excited to be taking classes with students who are as ecstatic to be in class as I am,she added.I think it will be an invigorating environment for me.

At Bridgeport, she has been inspired by her chemistry teacher, who has been a mentor and role model.

Shes a wonderful teacher,Swanson said,but shes also a mother and an adviser to student council. Shes the best teacher Ive had because she takes it seriously and wants students to learn. Shes not just doing a job. She balances everything well. I hope I can do that in the future.

Winning the Foundation Scholarship, she said, takes the financial burden off her family and also provides a stipend for studying abroad. Using that stipend, she hopes to examine health care systems in other countries and possibly incorporate that knowledge into her education or career.

She is the daughter of Jeff and Connie Swanson.

One of Lucas Pennocks most influential role models is former President John Adams.

He was a stubborn man,Pennock said.He always said what he believed. He did many good things, but made many mistakes. He is viewed as one of the most unappreciated men in history, but there might not have been a bigger patriot. He was so dedicated.

The Parkersburg South High School student from Mineral Wells shares many of the same qualities of Adams. Pennock describes himself aspersistent, loyal and outspoken.

I believe that you should never give up on anything,he said.If you make a commitment, you should stick with it.

Being a hardworking student is a commitment that Pennock plans to stick to at WVU , and he plans to be loyal to the University and the state as a Foundation Scholar.

I am excited to be able to represent the University and be an ambassador for this great state,he said.

Pennock will study history and political science when he attends WVU in hopes of becoming a teacher at the high school or college level.

A strong believer in the power of discussion, he has participated in the People Speak Global Debate and Public Forum Debate and has received an award for extemporaneous speaking.

In Pennocks academic life, he has been involved in many quiz bowl tournaments and was captain of his high schools quiz bowl team. He has also been a member of both the French and National Honor societies. Pennock also participated in the West Virginia Governors Honors Academy.

A member of the Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow honor society, Pennock has led groups of boys through an overnight canoe trip in Canada, served as an assistant scoutmaster and senior patrol leader, laid sidewalk and rang the Salvation Army bell, among other things.

In his spare time, Pennock likes to read and play the piano. He has been playing for more than 11 years.

At WVU , Pennock looks forward to being a student in the Honors College and meeting new people. He plans to study abroad in Europe, where he will focus on the history of the different countries and study how various cultures live.

He is the son of Daniel and Janie Pennock.

Amanda Thorp of Weirton can see herself becoming a chemical engineer and devoting her time to alternative fuels research.

I want to help people, but not necessarily as a doctor,Thorp said.As an engineer, I can help people find solutions to the energy crisis.

Currently first in her class at Weir High School, she describes herself asdetermined, intellectual and caring.

She has been active in student government all four years of high school. She is currently student body secretary and has served as class secretary and class president. Shes a member of the Lady Red Ridersstate runner-up soccer team and tennis team.

Shes also involved in her schools Chemistry Club, Key Club, Academic Games Foreign Language Club and Environmental Science Cluband the Trinity Lutheran church youth group.

For Thorp, receiving the Foundation scholarship is an opportunity for her togrow intellectually and as a person.

It will be great to share my experiences with my family and to travel to different areas of the world,she said.The more you travel and discover, the more you learn. I love it.

She has always wanted to attend WVU and looks forward to meeting people with similar goals and aspirations. She will be a student in the Honors College.

I cant wait for the college experience,she said.I want to learn new things, meet new people and be a Mountaineer.

Thorp has been mentioned in Whos Who Among High School Scholars. She has been a member of the National Honor Society and National Society of High School Scholars and a Girls State ambassador. In addition, she was recognized as West Virginia District Key Club Outstanding Vice President.

During her spare time, she enjoys reading fiction, hanging out with friends, bowling and watching TV with her parents.

She attributes much of her success both as a student and a person to her teachers, soccer coaches and her parents.

They have helped prepare me academically and emotionally,she said.

She is the daughter of Ken and Sandy Thorp.

RobertBobbyGuy, of Wheeling Park High School, thrives on the ability to allow his creativity to run wild.

The dedicated musician enjoys working with cars and computers because of the mechanics involved. He will major in engineering this fall at WVU .

Computers and electronics will play a huge role in solving the worlds problems,he said.I think I could definitely contribute.

Guys heart is in music. A bass player since elementary school, he is a member of the Wheeling Symphony Youth Orchestra and his schools orchestra and jazz bands. He has been a member of All-State Orchestra and participated in the West Virginia Jazz Festival for the past four years. He also volunteers as an usher at Wheeling Symphony Orchestra concerts.

When asked who he admired, Guy saidall middle class people.

I admire people who have to work and get up day after day,he said.They are dedicated enough to keep doing that, and it is a big part of America. It helps the country to run.

A National Merit finalist, Guy was listed in Whos Who Among American High School Students and has been a member of the National Society of High School Students, the National Honor Society and National Honor Roll. He is also a lifetime member of the Royal Order of the Golden Horseshoe.

Receiving the Foundation Scholarship is important to Guy because it will allow him to focus more on school and less on working to pay for his education. He looks forward to being a Mountaineer.

The programs are really good,he said.I love the campus and the overall atmosphere.

While at WVU , Guy looks forward to studying abroad in Europe, participating in campus activities, using the academic facilities and attending football games.

He has been a student council representative for all four years of high school and, as a senior, is secretary of his class. Hes participated in Wheeling Parks track and cross country teams, Key Club, German Club, Hi-Y, the Junior Engineering and Technical Society Team, West Virginia Math League and Astronomy Club.

He is the son of Robert and Cheryl Guy.