Thanks to the ongoing support of West Virginia University alumnus H. Stephen “Steve” Conrad and his wife, Jane, the Conrad Farms Agriculture Scholarship endowment received a generous financial increase.
The Conrads established this scholarship in early 2013 to help recruit West Virginia’s most promising students to the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. The motivation behind establishing this fund stemmed from the Conrads’ desire to give something back to a university that had been an integral part of their lives. They also wanted to create opportunities for students, similar to the ones they were afforded.
Steve Conrad shares more detail about one such opportunity.
“The first thing that my college degree gave me was an opportunity to get my commission in the Navy and fly jet fighters off of aircraft carriers,” he said. “Even though I was an animal sciences major, I was able to compete successfully with my peers, many of whom were graduates of the Naval Academy or had engineering backgrounds. I think that says a lot about the quality of education you receive at West Virginia University.”
The rising cost of education is a concern that Conrad recognizes and wants to help address through this fund. He realizes scholarships play a crucial role in making a college education affordable. Student loans are also an option, but not always the best option, he said.
“If you get a lot of student loans, you may come out of college and have $50,000 to $100,000 in debt, which certainly limits your opportunities right after graduation,” stated Conrad.
The Conrads’ desire to see this scholarship fund make an immediate impact was exemplified through their commitment to bringing the fund up to its endowment level early on, therefore making it possible for funds to be awarded to students immediately. The recent gift from the Conrads only further ensures the fund will continue to provide a perpetual stream of support for years to come.
John Yates, current scholarship recipient majoring in agribusiness management, is grateful for the support.
“This scholarship has removed the pressure of trying to get more money for school,” he said. “Without the pressure of needing a job, I’m able to fully focus on coursework.”
Amber Hines, senior director of academic administration for the Davis College, gratefully acknowledges the impact scholarships make on recruitment and retention.
“The landscape of higher education is becoming increasingly competitive, so the Conrad Farms Agriculture Scholarship and other privately-funded scholarships play a critical role in recruiting,” she said. “The scholarship from the Conrads has already made a positive impact on our recruitment efforts, and I’m extremely grateful for their decision to support the Davis College in this way.”
Yates shares similar sentiments of gratitude when asked what his specific message is to the Conrads.
“It’s nice that this scholarship is intended specifically for Davis College students,” he stated. “I thank the Conrads for their support. It’s a real ‘motivation driver’ to have people who care enough to create scholarships like this.”
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be West Virginia residents, enrolled in the WVU Davis College and have demonstrated financial need. First preference is given to incoming freshmen.
The Conrad Farms Agriculture Scholarship was created in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.
CONTACT: Nikky Luna, Communications Manager
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