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Former WV Senator Jay Rockefeller establishes public service scholarship at WVU

Former Senator Rockefeller

West Virginia University students studying within the new John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics now have the opportunity to earn a scholarship also bearing the former U.S. Senator’s name.

A $100,000 gift from Rockefeller to the WVU Foundation has created the John D. Rockefeller IV Leadership Award in Policy & Politics.

Former Senator Jay Rockefeller said he endowed this scholarship in the hope that it would enable the best and brightest students to experience meaningful public service or research that would also address some of the biggest policy questions and community challenges.

“My sincere hope is that this scholarship will allow star students to take an important step on their journeys to better understand how they can change their world today and into the future,” said Rockefeller.   

The first recipient of this new scholarship, Michelle Sloane, was announced at the inaugural Rockefeller Public Service Celebration on April 16. Sloane, of Paramus, New Jersey, is currently a student in the Master of Public Administration program. As a graduate student, Sloane has been involved in several public service projects, including developing community capacity in Fairmont, West Virginia and exploring budget frameworks for the WVU Extension Fire Service. She serves in a leadership role in the WVU Student Association of Public Administrators and volunteers with the West Virginia Botanical Gardens. Michelle also works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center. 

“The Rockefeller Scholarship is the embodiment of the WVU land grant vision of enhancing the vitality and well-being of the people of West Virginia,” Maja Holmes, associate professor of public administration, said. “Michelle’s service-learning project represents the commitment of WVU students to make this vision a reality.”

Terms of the scholarship agreement call for recipients of the award to be undergraduate students who are participating in off-campus service learning opportunities related to policy, leadership, or public services in areas related to challenges facing the state of West Virginia.  Second preference would be for graduate students doing direct public service, with the proper temperament, approach, and understanding of the culture and needs of the community in areas related to the challenges facing the state.

Sloane will be working to advance the creation of the Fairmont Black History Museum. The project will address the challenge of giving voice to an underrepresented part of the community, promote understanding of cultural diversity in West Virginia, and offer education and outreach opportunities to members of the greater Fairmont community.

“I am passionate about helping people access information and resources,” Sloane said. “I have worked with Fairmont in different capacities and look forward to the opportunity to delve deeper and help this particular community showcase one of its strongest assets - its rich cultural history.”

Recipients of the award will be required to prepare a report of their experience, which will be included in the John D. Rockefeller IV archives located in the WVU Libraries.

In November 2014, Rockefeller and WVU announced the naming of the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics at WVU within the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to the announcement, Rockefeller and WVU designated the WVU Libraries as the permanent home of the John D. Rockefeller IV Senatorial Archives and dedicated the John D. Rockefeller IV Gallery in the WVU Downtown Library in honor of the Democratic senator’s nearly 50 years of public service to the citizens of West Virginia.

The Rockefeller gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort on behalf of WVU runs through December 2017.

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