FoundationWest Virginia University welcomed its newest class of Foundation Scholars to the Mountaineer family on Wednesday (May 14).

In the fall, they’ll come from as close as Morgantown and as far as Wyoming County to begin their journeys, which include goals to change the state, country and even world.

Lofty, yet seemingly achievable, as the 2014 Foundation Scholars are an energized and motivated group ready to study diseases and parasites in Africa and create new sustainable energy sources, among other goals.

The Foundation Scholarship is the top award offered by WVU’s undergraduate scholarship program, which annually benefits more than 5,500 students in excess of $10 million. Since the Foundation Scholarship program was established in 1987, 140 of the state’s brightest high school students have been awarded the University’s most selective scholarship.

“Each of our five Foundation Scholars has an interest in the world around them, and they look forward to taking part in the study-abroad programs offered at West Virginia University,” said President Gordon Gee. “All of them are thoughtful people, who want to use their skills and education to help others. I am impressed with Kensey, Daniel, Anna, Nicole and Savannah and welcome them to the West Virginia University family.”

The newest Foundation Scholars are:

  • Kensey Bergdorf, Evans, Ripley High School
  • Daniel Berrebi, Morgantown, Morgantown High School
  • Anna Cokeley, Harrisville, Ritchie County High School
  • Nicole Hegele, Shady Spring, Shady Spring High School
  • Savannah Lusk, Covel, Wyoming East High School

Gee, along with WVU Vice President of Student Affairs Ken Gray and WVU Foundation President and CEO Cindi Roth spoke at Wednesday’s event at Blaney House.

“I join my colleagues at the WVU Foundation in saluting these exceptional West Virginia high school seniors,” Roth said. “Each scholar has excelled in academics, leadership and community service, and we are thrilled that they will be attending WVU. The Foundation stands committed to providing scholarship opportunities for students through the wonderful generosity of our donors.”

The award – which provides full tuition and fees, plus room and board and books for four years – is valued at approximately $80,000 when paired with the state’s PROMISE Scholarship. In addition, the scholarship includes a $4,500 stipend for academic enhancement, which is commonly used for study abroad, internships and other advanced learning opportunities.

Foundation Scholars are chosen from a pool of 20 students awarded the Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship, itself valued at more than $30,000 for four years. After being offered the Bucklew Scholarship, students are invited to campus for a day of rigorous interviews.

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

Meet WVU’s 2014 class of Foundation Scholars:

Kensey Bergdorf, of Ripley, fell in love with WVU, and her career path, a little more slowly than others.

With her mother being a family doctor, she swore she’d never go into medicine, but after seeing her mother’s passion and the community’s response toward her, Bergdorf started changing her mind.

“I came up here to visit and it was OK,” she said. “And then I was at a college fair, and they handed me an immunology pamphlet, and I’ve been crazy about that since I could remember. There were no other schools that I looked at that had that major. The more I come up here, the more I fall in love with it.”

Although the immunology program was what attracted her to WVU, the beauty and size of the campus kept her attention.

“Other schools I visited were so small. I like to go out and explore and see something new everyday, and you can do that at WVU.”

She hopes to use the study abroad stipend to travel to third-world Africa, not only to provide basic medical care but to study diseases and parasites endemic to the area.

“As an immunology major, diseases and parasites have always fascinated me,” Bergdorf said. “I would not only be bettering the people of the area, but advancing my education and preparing for my future career.”

Bergdorf, the daughter of Erin Mullins-Frashier and step-father Justin Frashier, is the fourth Foundation Scholar from Ripley High School.

Daniel Berrebi is a born and raised Mountaineer. A Morgantown High School student, Berrebi knows his home is this college town.

Although he looked at going out of state for college, he can’t imagine being anywhere else.

“My heart is here,” Berrebi said. “I’ve grown up watching sports here. My dad is a professor here. I feel like I’m part of this community. When I visit these other places, it doesn’t feel like me. I feel like I belong in a way.”

Berrebi has involved himself in so many aspects of the community, it’s no wonder he feels like Morgantown is the place for him. He has played and coached soccer, basketball and tennis, taken piano lessons since age 4, tutored his peers, worked as a camp counselor, taught religious school and spent time visiting local retirement homes.

“West Virginia has done a lot for me,” Berrebi said. “I’ve had some amazing times here. I just bleed gold and blue.”

During his time at WVU, Berrebi plans on studying biology, in the hopes of going to medical school.

“WVU sets me up for a great career in medicine,” he said. “Morgantown offers a lot of job opportunities. Coming out of WVU, I’d be set.”

Berrebi is the sixth student from Morgantown High School to win the Foundation Scholarship and first since 2006.

He is the son of Albert and Denise Berrebi.

Anna Cokeley only had access to one AP course in a physical classroom during high school, but that didn’t stop her from taking six others online and enrolling in four college courses between two separate schools.

That resourcefulness and drive for education will help her as she researches new sustainable energy sources.

“As a growing world, we’re going to confront energy issues as all of this petroleum and other things die down; we’re going to need others,” Cokeley said. “We’re going to need people to look that up.”

Majoring in chemical engineering, Cokeley wants to be the person to do so. She’s interested in the materials needed to sustain our culture, outside of what we already know.

She chose WVU as her venue because of the intimate campus and travel abroad opportunities.

“It has good programs and the atmosphere is great,” she said. “It’s just like the state of West Virginia – you know everyone, and it’s a good feeling area. It does have a good engineering program.”

Cokely is the first-ever Foundation Scholar from Ritchie County High School.

She is the daughter of Edward and Gail Cokeley.

Nicole Hegele has taken 12 Advanced Placement classes, graduated first in her class and has more extracurriculars than you can count. But it’s still not enough to challenge her.

That’s why she chose WVU.

“I’ve never really been challenged,” Hegele admitted. “I’ve never been challenged to the point where I’ve had to stay up all night to do homework. I’m excited for someone to look at me and wonder if I can figure it out instead of them expecting me to. I want that challenge – the next level. WVU will offer me that.”

With plans to major in civil engineering and eventually go on to law school, she’s sure to reach that level.

“I want the research opportunities in the variety that engineering offers, but I plan on attending law school,” Hegele said. “I want to be a figure head. I want to represent WV and what WV stands for.”

Hegele wasn’t originally planning on staying in-state for college, but after attending the Governor’s Honors Academy held on campus, she and her parents agreed it was a good fit.

“I chose West Virginia because I’m proud to be a West Virginian. It’s one of the few things that will never change for me.”

Hegele is the daughter of Elizabeth Hegele. She is the second student from Shady Spring High School to be named a Foundation Scholar.

Savannah Lusk has a passion for helping others, in any way she can.

At 15 years old, Lusk felt a calling from God to become a youth pastor and make her volunteer work more than just numbers on a page. Ignoring the looks and words of those who doubted her, she did everything in her power to help those around her, from carrying groceries for an elderly woman to reaching out to a bullied student.

Looking forward, Lusk plans on making a career out of helping others by one day working in oncology, and sees WVU as a way to get her there.

“The exercise physiology program at WVU will give me plenty of opportunities to conduct undergraduate research. It’s one of the top programs in the country,” she said.

She also hopes to participate in the Honors Pre-Med Global Service Learning program. This trip would give her the opportunity to serve on a medical boat in Amazonian Brazil: a chance to impact and improve the lives of others, something she says she would relish.

“WVU is a big school with lots of opportunities, yet the people here are just lovely. They are hospitable and helpful.”

Lusk is the first-ever Foundation Scholar from Wyoming East High School.

She is the daughter of William and Tressa Lusk.