Eby, Glass, Ihlenfeld Named Bucklew Scholars at WVU

From left, Ashley Eby, Morgan Glass and Sarah Ihlenfeld

MORGANTOWN — Three Northern Panhandle high school seniors — Wheeling Park High School’s Morgan Glass and Sarah Ihlenfeld and Brooke High’s Ashley Eby — are among those selected as 2018 Bucklew Scholars at West Virginia University.

The scholarship, worth more than $40,000 over four years, is given to 20 high-achieving West Virginia students who have been accepted to the university. It also qualifies each student to be considered for a Foundation Scholarship, which is the highest academic scholarship the university awards.

For Brooke High School’s Ashley Eby, it’s “always been WVU,” where she said tradition meets innovation. Eby, who plans to study chemical engineering before entering law school, wants to write policy for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“I love the environment,” she said. “I don’t think there are enough legislators that know enough about the science.”

Eby is the daughter of Nikki and Dave Eby, of Wellsburg.

Wheeling Park’s Sarah Ihlenfeld said that politicians can be less than sincere. However, she admires former President Barack Obama for his strong will.

“I think (President) Obama was really a good-hearted man,” said Ihlenfeld. “Being in politics, you have to do things you don’t want to do. I think looking back, he’ll be proud of what he did, doing the best he could for people.”

Ihlenfeld plans to pursue international studies and then law school to study international or human rights law. She is the daughter of William and Becket Ihlenfeld, of Wheeling.

With biochemistry as her intended major, Wheeling Park’s Morgan Glass wants to be involved in medical research. That could mean medical school, but might also mean a Ph.D. and clinical trials that would allow her to do hands-on research. Glass’s attention to detail should stand her in good stead as she explores career possibilities.

“I really like biology and I really like chemistry,” said Glass. “I like where they come together; the entire body is a chemical reaction.”

She is the daughter of Shane and Lori Glass, of Wheeling.

The 17 other Bucklew Scholars have high future aspirations, as well, with many saying they chose WVU because of its standing as an R1 Research Institution and also the fact that it’s home.

Jenna Soltesz jokingly said her parents “pretended” to let her choose her school, but as alumni, they were fairly set on her coming to Morgantown. The Bridgeport High School senior plans to study industrial engineering.

The discovery of elevated emissions from Volkswagen diesel vehicles by WVU’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions was a deciding factor for Jackie Arnold from Washington High School. Shortly after that 2015 discovery, WVU won NASA’s Centennial Challenge in two consecutive years.

“Beating schools like MIT in these competitions not only means prize money and bragging rights, it sends a message to students throughout the state,” said Arnold. “The message I received was that if I wanted a world-class engineering degree, I don’t need to look any farther than Morgantown.”

Research is important for Hunter Moore from South Harrison High School. Moore plans to study aerospace engineering, earn a Ph.D. and then a spot at NASA.

Grafton High School’s Louis “Jay” Latta spent some of the recent teacher work stoppage writing a 90-second stand-up comedy routine. Latta plans a career in engineering, saying he wants to run his own software company.

Ethan Weaver from Parkersburgh High School will join Latta on the computer science career track. Weaver chose WVU because of the ability to do undergraduate research here and the chance to study abroad.

Study abroad is also important to Heath Cottrill, who wants to travel to Haiti to help bring water to villages still without basic infrastructure since the 2010 earthquake. Cottrill, from Braxton County High School, volunteered with his church in Haiti.

Jacob Hise from Pocahontas County High School also volunteers at his church in Green Bank and works on church-related community projects in his spare time. Hise plans to study civil engineering as a path back home to work for the West Virginia Division of Highways or the U.S. Forest Service.

Katherine Whittington’s grandfather is the pastor at her church, where she volunteers as a pre-K Sunday School teacher. Whittington has spent this last semester of her Sissonville High School career helping to raise money for a classmate diagnosed with cancer and in leadership positions with her volleyball and tennis teams, as well as the state president of West Virginia DECA. Whittington plans to study political science before attending law school. She sees herself entering the political arena, perhaps as a judge.

In his spare time, Ian McKnight from Parkersburg South High School enjoys playing the ukulele and writing poetry in classic sonnet style. McKnight wants to major in biomedical engineering and also study international religions and political science. Combining three seemingly unrelated disciplines, he wants to work around the world with vaccines to help people in foreign countries survive diseases that can be cured in the U.S.

Cabell Midland High School is home to Shamil Patel, who plans to study abroad in Italy to learn more about the history before settling into a career in aerospace engineering. An Eagle Scout, Patel has volunteered to install energy-saving light bulbs at a Ronald McDonald House, then constructed a picnic area and fence for residents to enjoy some natural light.

Vijay Bharti from Morgantown High School has already gained some independence through his family’s non-profit STEM Enterprises. Bharti’s family uses robotics to teach science in the U.S. and in Brazil, Afghanistan and India, where students may not have access to higher level science. Bharti plans to study business, along with biology for a pre-med degree.

Teresa Riffle wants to be an educator, as well, and aspires to be a high school math teacher. The Ravenswood High School senior is an FFA member without a farm, yet is president of her local chapter and has placed first in national FFA floraculture competitions.

Meg Sorrells from Hurricane High School wants to work with students who have speech issues and will study to be a speech pathologist. Sorrells found she liked working with younger students while she was employed at a summer camp in the mountains and giving private swimming lessons to kids who had learning disabilities. She finds herself on the side of people who lack privilege in society.

Taking care of others is important for Brady Hanshaw from Sissonville High School, too. Hanshaw plans to go to medical school so that he can practice in underserved rural areas in West Virginia.

Jamie Higgins used his National Honor Society position to start a tutoring center at Shady Spring High School. Higgins will major in computer science for a career in software engineering and would like to study abroad in Germany.

Murad Hamirani from Parkersburg High School describes himself as a “perfectionist.” Always seeking the perfect solution to whatever problem is in front of him, Hamirani wants to major in computer science or computer engineering, then study for an MBA so he can be a consultant for a technology business firm.

Raegan Hughes is the captain of her Shady Spring High School soccer team and also works with Next Step, mentoring freshmen who are at risk of dropping out of high school, making sure they have a plan. Hughes is a pre-veterinary major and wants to work with larger animals while she’s studying at WVU.

The Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship is named after WVU’s 20th president and is valued at $40,000, providing its recipients with more than $10,000 per year over four years to be used toward educational costs. All Bucklew Scholars have qualified for the Honors College at WVU, and the scholarship can be used in addition to the state’s PROMISE Scholarship.

The Foundation Scholarships, which will be announced May 15, are awarded to five Bucklew Scholars.