She didn't think she'd win the scholarship, but she did. Ravenswood junior wins full ride

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Julia said she was speechless when she found out she won the full-ride scholarship to West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Julia was pulling nails out of walls and drilling holes Tuessday at a property her parents areflipping. Not even 24 hours later, she was on West Virginia Wesleyan College's campus accepting a full-ride scholarship. 

Julia McCoy, a junior at Ravenswood High School, sat in the college's dining hall thinking of other scholarships she was going to apply to she knew she wanted to go to Wesleyan but there was no way she'd get this scholarship, she thought. 

When names were announced for the West Virginia Scholars recipients, Julia was guessing who was going to win the full ride. The second runner-up was announced, she clapped; the first runner-up was announced, she clapped; the winner was announced she was speechless. 

Her mom gasped. 

"Oh, wow," her dad said. 

"I was just waiting for anybody else's name to be called," Julia said. "I was just shocked." 

The scholarship covers all tuition, fees, and room and board. It hasn't completely sunk in yet, Julia said.

After accepting the scholarship, she returned to Ravenswood for tennis practice. She was on the court thinking about how this scholarship will change her life. It will create new potential career paths for her. 

When she filled out the application, she wrote about how she wanted to become a nurse, and maybe pursue a doctoral degree in science or medicine later on. She knew she wanted to do more than nursing, but she's too much of a realist to commit to that path without the finances. 

Now, Julia said her options are wide open. She plans on using the money in her college fund for whatever doctoral program she pursues after getting her undergraduate degree. Julia said she's thought about pursuing exercise science, biology and physical therapy.

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Her mom, Rebecca McCoy, said she's known that Julia wanted to go farther than nursing for a while, but the family of realists never talked too much about it because the college fund wouldn't cover it 

"We never encouraged it because of finances," Rebecca said. "But she gets to do that now."

Julia McCoy gives a short speech after she was named this year's West Virginia Scholars winner.

Julia has always been a straight-A student. Rebecca said Julia got a B in Spanish once in middle school and she still brings it up. Even though she's always been a sharp student, Julia and the rest of her family — didn't want to get their hopes up about the scholarship. 

"It's like winning the lottery," Rebecca said. 

About 60 high schoolers in West Virginia applied, and there were 15 finalists. John Waltz, West Virginia Wesleyan College's vice president of enrollment, said this was the most competitive pool of applicants he's seen, especially when it came to the GPA's.

The average GPA for the entire applicant pool was a 3.9 and the average GPA for the finalists was a 4.0. The applications included essays, recommendation letters and finalists completed interviews with the judging panel, which included the college's employees and the scholarship's donors. 

Waltz said the college is known for its science and health-related programs, and he knows Julia's interests in these areas will be a good fit on campus. 

"Julia is a great and worthy recipient of the award," Waltz said. "The health battlefields and STEM fields are really important to us here ... she's a really good match for those pursuits." 

After winning the scholarship, Rebecca said, the first thing they did on their drive home was swing by Julia's grandparents' house. Julia's grandfather started Ravenswood's First United Methodist Church and he attended WVWC. She had to tell him she got a full ride to his alma mater. 

Julia has grown up in the church her grandfather helped build, and she finds her identity through her faith. She said she's blessed to have the opportunity to attend a Methodist-affiliated institution. 

— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.