The West Virginia Scholar Program, currently in its thirteenth year, provides high school juniors with the opportunity to apply for a four-year-full-ride scholarship to West Virginia Wesleyan College. Valued at approximately $160,000; the scholarship includes four years of room, board, tuition, and fees at WVWC.

Prizes are also awarded for second and third place. The second-place winner receives a four-year $5,000 scholarship while the third-place prize is a four-year $2,500 scholarship to WVWC beginning with the fall semester of 2021.

The program consists of five rounds for competitors; application, review process, the announcement of finalists and review; finalists sponsor and public vote; and contest wrap-up.

Selecting a winner begins following the end of the application round. All entries will be narrowed down to 15 finalists. The 15 finalists are then reviewed by the program sponsors and MetroNews. Once the review is complete, the public then has the opportunity to vote online for their favorite finalist.

Scores from all three areas: West Virginia Wesleyan ranking; sponsor and MetroNews review; and public votes, are then averaged to find the top three winners.

In the top 15, this year are two Ripley High School students, Lauren Roush and Davis Haynes.

Roush is the 17-year-old daughter of Jason and Lesley Roush. She will be a senior at Ripley High School where she is active in Student Council as Student Body President, captain of the Lady Vikings basketball team, and a member of the Girls’ State Champion track team. Roush is a member of the National Honor Society, ALA Girls’ State, and a Governors Honor Academy Scholar. Her club participation includes the president of the Future Business Leaders of America, vice-president of Kenna Succeeders 4H Club, secretary of Teen Leaders, and a member of the Youth Leadership Association. She is also on her high school tennis team.

Each finalist was required to submit an essay with their application. Roush received a question regarding her study plan and how it would eventually help the state of West Virginia.

“I talked about how I wanted to go to medical school to become an OBGYN and help bring new life into West Virginia,” Roush said.

According to Roush, her interest in Wesleyan began when she attended a basketball camp there. Growing up in a Christian home, she and her family feel WVWC will be able to provide Roush with a Christian atmosphere, as well as a safe environment to further her education.

Haynes is the 17-year-old son of Donell Haynes and the late Benjamin Haynes. He too will be a senior at Ripley High School where he is a member of the National Honor Society and a Rho Kappa-Social Studies Honorary. Haynes is the captain of the Ripley Viking Golf Team and co-captain of the baseball team. He is a three-year letterman in both sports. During his sophomore year, he was a Hugh O'Brien Leadership Scholar and was selected for Boys’ State during his junior year. He is also a member of the Student Government Association and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

One of Haynes community activities includes working with the American Federation of Suicide Prevention, West Virginia Chapter. For the past nine years, he has participated in the Mid Ohio Valley Out of Darkness walk for suicide prevention in Parkersburg. The “Haynes Gang,” as his group of family members is named, has raised thousands of dollars for suicide prevention.

Part of Haynes essay was regarding the impact that his coaches, teachers, and other leaders in his life have had on him as role models.

He said he has had several different role models throughout his life that have all helped him become who he is today. His hope is to remain in West Virginia in the future and be a role model for other youth and encourage them to stay in West Virginia as his teachers and coaches did for him.

“West Virginia’s greatest resources are our youth,” Haynes said. “We need to find ways to keep our youth here, that is the only way we can grow.”

Haynes said he grew up in a Methodist church and Wesleyan being a Methodist college was part of the attraction for him when searching for the institution that best fit his values.

He will be majoring in secondary education with a focus on social studies and a possible minor in political science. Haynes said he would like to pursue a law degree, but wherever his career path leads him, he is confident he will remain in West Virginia.

To vote for Roush or Haynes go to wvscholar.com/vote.cfm. You will select a finalist from the drop-down menu and include your e-mail address. Once you have voted, an e-mail will be automatically sent to you to confirm your vote. Voting is open through July 31. The grand prize winner will be announced on Aug. 5.