West Virginia University has announced the newest class of Bucklew Scholars.

The University has awarded 20 of the state’s top-performing high school seniors the esteemed Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship to attend WVU in the fall.

The scholarship, valued at $30,000, provides each student with more than $7,500 per year toward educational costs during his or her four years at WVU.

Neil S. Bucklew, the scholarship’s creator, served as WVU’s 20th president from 1986 to 1995. The scholarships are part of the University’s comprehensive awards program and are supported, in part, by the WVU Foundation, the private non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.

The students are now eligible for WVU’s top academic award, the Foundation Scholarship, which is awarded to five of the Bucklew Scholars. The Foundation scholars will be announced in May.

The 2013 Bucklew scholars are:

• Tiffany Benjamin, Wardensville, East Hardy High School
• Adam Bowles, Princeton, Princeton Senior High School
• Jordan Chapman, Hurricane, Hurricane High School
• Rebecca Cokeley, Harrisville, Ritchie County High School
• Ian Collins, Parkersburg, Parkersburg High School
• Mohamed Feliachi, Morgantown, Morgantown High School
• Michael Fouts, Bridgeport, Bridgeport High School
• Mouaz Haffar, Charleston, George Washington High School
• Sundus Lateef, Bridgeport, Bridgeport High School
• Jennifer Mangano, Chester, Oak Glen High School
• Jacob McCoy, Man, Man High School
• Joshua McPherson, Fairmont, Fairmont Senior High School
• Joseph Mills, Princeton, Princeton High School
• Dillon Muhly-Alexander, West Union, Doddridge County High School
• Julie Peng, Culloden, Hurricane High School
• Adam Richardson, South Charleston, South Charleston High School
• Emma van der Aarde, Martinsburg, Martinsburg High School
• Janelle Vickers, Moundsville, John Marshall High School
• Katherine Warner, Morgantown, University High School
• Benjamin Wilson, Bridgeport, Bridgeport High School

The following are bios for each of the Bucklew Scholars for 2013:

Tiffany Benjamin, of Wardensville, has taken several AP classes as well as five college-level courses at Potomac State College and Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Benjamin will graduate first in her class at East Hardy High School. She prides herself on being the Student Council president at her high school and credits the experience with teaching her important leadership skills.

“As the president, I fulfill the role of mediator between the students and administration of our school,” Benjamin said. “I take the problems, complaints and concerns of the student body to the principal and other significant faculty to see if we can discover resolutions to the ailments.

“Students perceive me as a peer they can approach with anything. They may be intimidated by the administration. However, they prove to be unafraid of me. I feel as though I make a positive impact through communicating with both ends of the school spectrum.”

Benjamin hopes to study accounting at WVU and would like to study abroad in the United Kingdom. She believes that this would give her a better understanding of her field of study and a fresh outlook while she works on her capstone course.

She is the daughter of Tony and Kerry Benjamin.

Adam Bowles, of Princeton, will graduate high school with more than five college-level courses already completed. Bowles, currently ranked second in his class, has also been an active member of the Princeton Senior High School Band since his freshmen year. The marching band is something Bowles has excelled at since the fifth grade. He is currently first chair and section leader.

When he isn’t busy with his music, Bowles is also the vice president of Princeton High School’s National Honor Society and President of the Center for International Understanding Youth Club. The Youth Club is a nonprofit community organization that takes on various projects to assist international students and foster cross-cultural understanding in southern West Virginia.

“One of the CIU’s annual projects is our international festival. The proceeds of the festival go to a local scholarship fund to help students study abroad. This year, the CIU raised $961 from the festival,” Bowles said. “This year, I organized lectures by scholars from India, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. I worked closely with teachers at my school to facilitate these lectures.”

Bowles’ dream is to be a doctor or biologist and to work internationally to treat people in areas with limited access to good healthcare. Bowles has already traveled to China and hopes to return via a study abroad program to help those in need of healthcare in the rural areas.

He is the son of Dwayne and Jodi Bowles.

Jordan Chapman, of Hurricane, will enter college with more than 10 AP classes already completed and currently ranks second in Hurricane High School’s graduating class. As student body vice president, Science National Honor Society secretary and Chemistry Club president, Chapman still fits in time for tennis and fitness training. In addition to being an athlete, Chapman also helps the boy’s soccer team as its announcer.

“When I began announcing, I had to quickly learn to balance my schoolwork and a social life with my duty to the soccer team,” Chapman said. “For the first time in my life, I was left solely accountable for a job that the community expected to be done well.”

“By the end of my third and final season announcing, I had truly felt the gratification of taking on a daunting task and being successful with it. Being the voice of the HHS Boys’ Soccer Team was an excellent opportunity for me to put time into my community while developing attributes that will help me in college and beyond.”

Chapman hopes to study abroad while in college. With four years of Spanish already completed, Chapman hopes to become fully immersed in another culture to refine the language skills he has already learned.

He is the son of Bryan and Donna Chapman.

Rebecca Cokeley, of Harrisville, will graduate in the top 5 percent of her class at Ritchie County High School. One of Cokeley’s greatest accomplishments is her leadership through peer mediation. She was recruited in the sixth grade for the program.

“I learned that peer mediation gives disputing students an opportunity to resolve conflicts in a controlled environment,” Cokeley said. “Since the disputants ultimately solve the problem, peer mediation is more effective than traditional punishments in preventing further fights.”

Cokeley excelled in the peer mediation program, bringing it to high school and even educating high school teachers on the program. Because of her involvement, two other school districts decided to install peer mediation programs. In her time at WVU, Cokeley hopes to get involved with a research project involving sustainable energy. She hopes a degree in engineering from WVU will help her accomplish these goals.

She is the daughter of Edward and Gail Cokeley.

Ian Collins, of Parkerburg, will graduate in the top 5 percent of his class at Parkersburg High School with more than nine AP classes under his belt. Collins, who is also Student Council president and vice president of his National Honor Society, considers his most important leadership activity to be his community service as an Eagle Scout.

“I needed to plan and carry out a project that would better my community in some way,” Collins said. “I decided to perform an amateur remodeling and painting of my church’s youth room. It was my responsibility to acquire the necessary materials for caulking, spackling and painting the walls and ceiling of the youth room. I also assembled a group of volunteers that would assist me with the remodeling process.

“We were able to complete the project on the second day, after a total of 20 hours was required for the planning and completion of the project.”

Collins hopes to travel to South America on a study abroad experience while studying petroleum engineering. He anticipates that this experience will help him in his quest to master the Spanish language in addition to exploring different techniques in South America.

He is son of Robert and Jann Collins.

Mohamed Feliachi, a native of Morgantown, will graduate high school with more than 10 college courses completed. Feliachi is a member of the National Honor Society and a varsity player on the Morgantown High School soccer team.

In addition to his academic success, Feliachi is also an active member of MHS’ Hi-Y Club. Hi-Y’s goal is to build character and prepare youth to be responsible citizens through community service and leadership.

“One of the most important leadership opportunities I had taken part in during my time in high school was my leadership position in the Cardboard City Project,” Feliachi said. “Fifty students spent the night in cardboard boxes on our school’s football field on a rainy Saturday night. Our goal in this venture was to mimic the plight of the homeless. I realized the difficulty of living homeless, and that was only after one day.”

During his time at WVU, Feliachi hopes to study abroad in France to participate in Doctors Without Borders. He hopes this experience will help him achieve his goal of becoming a doctor as well as becoming fluent in French.

He is the son of Ali and Fadhila Feliachi.

Michael Fouts, of Bridgeport, is an Eagle Scout who credits the Boy Scouts of America for giving him a unique experience that helped him to become a leader. Fouts yearned to help youth learn a tangible and necessary academic skill, and this led him to establish a robotics program in his local middle school.

“I felt accomplished of my efforts, proud of the class and thrilled to be able to take such an active and lasting role in my community as the program is still being offered,” said Fouts on his robotics program. “This project forged my leadership skills by seeking volunteers and funneling their efforts in an efficient manner to guide the class toward a state tournament without hampering their creative freedoms.”

Fouts hopes to continue to help others at WVU by becoming involved with the Center for Civic Engagement. He looks forward to the travel and volunteer opportunities WVU can help him achieve.

He is currently second in his class at Bridgeport High School and has taken AP classes in English, psychology and calculus, among others.

He is the son of Ken and Marianne Fouts.

Mouaz Haffar, of Charleston, will enter WVU with 12 college-level courses already completed. Haffar was disturbed by violence in Syria and decided to make a difference. In collaboration with other Syrian classmates, the group raised more than $7,000 in humanitarian aid by establishing fundraisers in his high school.

“By inviting the local media to document our efforts, we hoped to lift the veil of ignorance about the genocide in Syria while contributing financially to help the countless innocents traumatized by this tragedy,” Haffar said. “In conjunction with local youth, I also volunteered at fundraising dinners in my hometown to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars by engaging local patrons and state politicians.”

Haffar, also a varsity soccer player at George Washington High School, hopes to go on to be a summer intern at the Center for Global Understanding in Washington, D.C. He hopes to interact with U.S. leaders and experience firsthand how public policies are cemented into the national framework.

He is the son of Mohamad Bassam Haffar and Rima Samman.

Sundus Lateef, of Bridgeport, is not only president of her Bridgeport High School’s National Honor Society but also a member of the Varsity Tennis Team. Lateef is a shining example of academic excellence who has been first in her class of 191 students for the entirety of high school. To help those who were excelling academically, Lateef implemented a program that matched qualified upperclassmen with struggling students in her school.

“This fruitful and entirely voluntary program has improved underclassmen’s grades and helped them avoid learned helplessness, serving as a source of pride for worthy upperclassmen,” Lateef said. “Throughout my four high school years, I have expanded these efforts from assisting a freshmen struggling in physical science to holding remedial AP calculus sessions.”

Sundus has taken classes in AP calculus, AP chemistry, AP English and AP history and is currently taking many others. She hopes to use her time at WVU to study abroad in France at the Institut Pasteur to explore emerging diseases and medical treatments.

She is the daughter of Khalid and Atiya Lateef.

Jennifer Mangano, of Chester, will graduate first in her class with 10 college-level courses already completed upon entrance to WVU. Mangano, also Student Council president and Key Club treasurer, is a member of Oak Glen High School’s Varsity Soccer Team.

She considers the Key Club to be one of her most important accomplishments during high school. After successfully being treasurer for her school, she went on to become district treasurer for the Key Club.

“As a member of the district board, I have chaired committees focusing on increasing state membership, presented reports on topics such as dues payment and membership growth, created spreadsheets that identify trends in membership, promoted service projects to club members and published informative newsletters to club treasurers,” Mangano said.

At WVU, Mangano will study physics and would like to take part in the Amizade study abroad program.

“It would allow me to understand a condition in that foreign community that I may never have thought about and then help offer a solution,” she said. “Learning from and working with people from another country would give me a chance to see that country in perspective that I could not achieve by simply being a tourist.”

She is the daughter of Mark and Tracy Mangano.

Jacob McCoy, of Man, ranks first in his class at Man High School. McCoy played an integral role in his community production of “The Aracoma Story” in 2012. “The Aracoma Story” is an annual outdoor drama, which takes place in the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre in Chief Logan State Park. It documents the real-life story of a young British soldier, Boling Baker, who is captured by the tribe of Chief Cornstalk.

“As the lead, I was instituted in a position of leadership among the cast, being entrusted not only to take care of myself but to take care of my cast-mates,” McCoy said. “I was able to serve my community as well as the State of West Virginia by keeping alive a part of its bountiful and colorful history.”

McCoy anticipates studying economics at WVU in hopes of getting a researching position at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

“At the Mercatus Center, I would look at items such as the negative effects of taxation, protectionism, regulation, and government intervention,” McCoy said.

McCoy is currently the vice president of Man High School’s National Honor Society and has exhausted the list of AP courses available to him.

He is the son of Harold and Jean Ann McCoy.

With his NASA experience and Math Field Day championship, Josh McPherson, of Fairmont, has gotten a jumpstart on his potential majors of computer science and math. However, his true passion lies in the community service work he has done for those less fortunate than himself. He spent a week over the summer in Gatlinburg, Tenn., repairing and renovating an elderly woman’s home.

“This experience led me to consider those underprivileged families and individuals in extremely similar situations; certainly they number higher than some individuals at or above middle-class would expect,” McPherson said. “Even just a week of time put forth by those more fortunate can have a significant positive impact on someone’s life.”

McPherson would like to take his time at WVU to not only focus on math and computer science but also master the art of a foreign language. He hopes to study abroad in order to fully immerse himself in a different culture and language.

In addition to his community service work, McPherson also lettered in cross country, and track and field at Fairmont Senior High School. He is also an active member of his church youth group as well as a member of Mu Alpha Theta and Science Honorary.

He is the son of Edward and Christy McPherson.

Joseph Mills, of Princeton, is set to graduate fourth in his class of 266 with nearly 10 AP classes completed. Mills, who is also a section leader and first chair in the Princeton Senior High School Marching Band, is also an AP Scholar with Honor award winner for the second school year in a row.

When he isn’t busy with his academics, Mills is a varsity athlete in basketball and track and field. However, the marching band remains close to Mills’ heart.

“As the section leader, I taught the other trombone players how to play their parts and helped teach drill to the entire band. I took on more responsibilities than the average section leader,” he said. “In my tenure the band won numerous grand-champion awards, including the Marshall Tri-State grand champion award.

“This leadership position has been important to me, because not only was I able to achieve a childhood aspiration, but I was able to help others improve their musical talent and physical capabilities, and most importantly I was able to contribute to the success of a competitive music performance organization.”

Mills hopes to go on to study at the University of Manchester in England. He hopes to participate in that university’s study abroad program for industrial engineering students. He feels that this would be a great opportunity to expand his knowledge in the field of industrial engineering through a program-based learning curriculum.

He is the son of Gary and Tina Mills.

Dillon Muhly-Alexander, of West Union, will have completed more than nine AP courses and two courses through Fairmont State University before he graduates from Doddridge County High School. Muhly-Alexander, in coordination with his county 4-H Extension agent, implemented a “backpack program” at his high school. The backpack program supplies food to children who are deemed “at risk” of not receiving nutritious meals over the weekend.

“After discussing the matter with my school counselor, our high school decided to pursue this local outreach,” Muhly-Alexander said. “Since that time, the program has dramatically increased and now encompasses students from not only the high school but also the middle and elementary schools. Every week, I witness how my actions positively shape the lives of students, families and friends within my community.”

Muhly-Alexander may be solving some of the hunger issues in his local schools but has ambitions of going on to solve world hunger. He hopes to travel to Geneva and work with the World Health Organization to gain a more comprehensive understanding of agricultural problems in the global perspective.

He is the son of Matthew Alexander and Linda Muhly.

With nearly 2,000 community service hours gained during high school, Julie Peng, of Culloden, is a shining example of helping others in Putnam County and around the world. Peng, also president of the National Honor Society and secretary of Student Council at Hurricane High School, decided to take office in these clubs because of the profound academic and social impact they have on the students at her school.

“Since the start of my positions in both clubs, emphasis has been placed on school unity and diversity of student interaction on all levels,” Peng said. “I personally seek to maintain and enhance student participation in clubs and school activities both cross culturally and socially.”

Peng believes that technological advances occurring today hold the key to transforming society. She expresses interest in 3D printers and their ability to help those in medical need, specifically prosthetics.

“Unleashing creative talents aimed at improving society through the use of technology and education would be my ultimate goal,” Peng said. “The thirst to accelerate already modern technologies places engineers in the forefront of developing modifications to positively impact society.”

When she isn’t busy with community service, Peng also sings, dances and plays the piano. She has taken AP classes in statistics, environmental science, U.S. history, calculus and macroeconomics among others.

She is the daughter of Susan Peng.

Adam Richardson, of South Charleston, currently ranks in the top 5 percent of his class at South Charleston High School with nearly 10 college-level courses already completed. Richardson, also a member in his school’s Beta Epsilon Honor Society, has been a varsity tennis player throughout high school. When he isn’t busy with his studies, he feels his time is best spent with the Eagles Club.

Richardson founded the Eagles for Social Justice Club, because he felt every person, regardless of age, sex, race, religion or socioeconomic status deserves the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of integrity.

“I created the club to provide a vessel for other students to do the same thing. Our club partners with both international and local organizations to help provide sustenance and stability to those who need it,” Richardson said. “So far, we have raised over $650 dollars for charity: water, a non-profit organization that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.”

With an eye on an international future, Richardson hopes to study abroad with Engineers Without Borders. He is eager to venture out to a new corner of the globe and would like to participate in a project in which his skills can help a community in need.

“Rather than benefit only myself with culturalization and exploration, I want to help my global neighbors who otherwise would not have the means to live free of hindrance,” Richardson said.

He is the son of Douglas and Janet Richardson.

Emma van der Aarde of Martinsburg, is going to graduate in the top 2 percent of her class at Martinsburg High School. She has taken classes in AP calculus, AP English and AP Spanish. Van der Aarde, who currently serves as Multicultual Club secretary and is an active member of the National Honor Society, considers one of her most important leadership experiences to be helping with a second-grade class.

While she was in school in the United Kingdom, she worked as a teacher’s assistant at Birchwood Primary school. For two, one-week-long volunteer work placements, it was her job to interact with the students and help them with any work for which they needed help. The primary school was in a rough part of town and, coming from nine years of private education, it was her first encounter with the difficulties experienced by a public school teacher.

“It was a real eye-opener for me to see how children who lived so close to me could have had such different experiences and outlooks on life to mine,” van der Aarde said. “It occurred to me that Birchwood was not just a school but also a rehabilitation facility and safe haven for children who needed a place to be loved and accepted.”

van der Aarde hopes to master the Mandarin language, major in international studies and go on to become a foreign diplomat. She feels that China’s growing economy will make it imperative to have fluency of the Mandarin language.

She is the daughter of Paul and Susan van der Aarde.

Janelle Vickers of Moundsville is an active participant in the John Marshall High School marching band. Vickers credits the band for helping her to learn leadership skills and to work better with others. She recalls being a young member of the band and the upperclassmen who helped guide her through the trials and tribulations of band camp. Eventually, she filled those shoes and has been integral in guiding young band members, just like she was, through the band experience.

“Even though I will be graduating in the spring, I hope my legacy will live on in what knowledge of music, marching and life I pass on to the young musicians who look up to me as an impossibly wise and intelligent mentor – just as I looked at the upperclassmen before me,” Vickers said. “With any luck, the students I prepare now will follow the same path I did, and in three years, tutor young band members themselves.”

With several AP college-level courses already completed, Vickers hopes to spend part of her time at WVU studying abroad. She credits her passion for travel to a school-sponsored trip to Europe. There she discovered her love for travel and hopes to further her passion.

She is the daughter of Susan Chaikowsky.

Katherine Warner, of Morgantown, stands second in her class of 282 for the seventh-consecutive semester. Warner helped to coordinate University High School’s third Hawk Walk, which benefits UHS teachers who are faced with a medical emergency. She was instrumental in fundraising, registering and organizing staff and equipment. Foster helped to raise more than $6,000 for this charity.

“Though the process was exhausting and stressful at times, the monetary gain and feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment that I was actually making a difference in someone’s life far outweighed and outlasted the short-lived frustrations and complications,” Warner said. “I learned that no matter how pure your cause seems not everyone will be so easily convinced to help.”

Warner has taken classes in AP English, AP geography and AP physics among others. She hopes to use the skills and connections WVU can provide to organize, staff and carry out her own mission to help those in another country.

She is the daughter of Benjamin Warner and Julie Knotts.

Benjamin Wilson, of Bridgeport, will come to WVU with eight AP college-level courses already completed. In addition to ranking third in his class at Bridgeport High School, Wilson is also a very active member in the musical community.

Wilson’s musical accomplishments include being in the Alderson-Broaddus Honor Band and being selected for the WVU Honor Band. He is drum captain in his high school’s marching band and an active member of jazz, concert and marching band.

When he isn’t busy playing to the beat of his own drum, Wilson is teaching others how to learn, play and love music. For the past two years, he has been teaching at a music camp for Kindergarteners to fifth graders.

“Not only is the music education important to a well-rounded curriculum and beneficial to mental development, but also the kids have a great time interacting with instruments that they may never have seen before,” Wilson said. “As my first opportunity formally to be an educator instead of a student, music camp has provided me with important leadership experience. I have found that, in serving through this program, I have learned just as much as I have taught others.”

Wilson has two distinct goals for his undergraduate education, to study abroad and to pursue undergraduate research. He believes that studying abroad as an engineering student will contribute to a holistic education and hopes to become involved with Engineers Without Borders.

He is the son of Rick and Becky Wilson.



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