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(ALEF would like to thank Jackson Kelly PLLC once again for sponsoring this event for our Fellows.)

Foglesong Welcomes Scholarship Recipients

Published: Friday, August 15, 2008

ALEF Reception

Retired Air Force General Robert "Doc" Foglesong, formerly the highest-ranking West Virginian in the military, has a plan for the state, and he's taking it one grandchild at a time.

Grandchildren are what he calls the recipients of scholarships from his Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation.

So far, the foundation is paying several dozen students' way through school at Concord, Marshall and Shepherd universities. In a ceremony on Thursday in Laidley Tower, Foglesong welcomed a third group of students, the 14-member Charlie Class, which begins class this fall.

Foglesong wants the students to stay in the state instead of migrating out like many college graduates. But he hopes each one ends up with more than just a degree and job in West Virginia.

He hopes the students are leaders with character and the mental agility to make tough choices. Indeed, each of the foundation's fellows was selected by a committee for leadership potential.

Besides regular coursework, the students attend leadership training and help their communities. Last year, the first two classes - Alpha and Beta, designations borrowed from the general's military vocabulary - did 3,000 hours of community service, or about 100 hours apiece.

The third group of students, the Charlies, brings the foundation's fellows to 45 people. The foundation is going to stay small enough, Foglesong said, so that staff still can know each student by their first name.

The group includes: Bryan Adkins of Radnor, Dustin Blankenship of Baisden, Jeremy Brock of Berkeley Springs, Sarah Crickenberger of Philippi, Katelyn Curry of Winfield, Heather Hall of Williamson, Westley Jenkins of Harpers Ferry, Darrell Johnson of Ona, Lauren Keller of St. Albans, Brittany Keys of Lewisburg, Brittany Kirkpatrick of Charles Town, Lauren Lambert of Mullens, Alex Lemley of Huntington, Dennis Lester of Jolo, Jonathan Lester of Gilbert, Kyle Lusk of Oceana, Robert McDonough of Shepherdstown, John Meadows of McCarthur, John Midkiff of Huntington, Jeffrey Miller of Huntington and Monica Oglesby of Princeton.

The group also includes: Brittany Salmons of Pineville, Joshua Stafford of Oceana, Aaron Stepp of Matheny, Luke Stevens of Rockview, Mitchell Tuggle of Peterstown, Hannah Vass of Lewisburg, Gavin Ward of Coal City, Jonelle Westbrook of Harpers Ferry, Emily Wilson of Hurricane and Jeffrey Yeager of Pineville.

At the ceremony on Thursday evening, fellows and their families called the scholarship a blessing and not just because everything - tuition, books, room and board - is paid for.

Rachelle Morrison said foundation staff are constantly in touch with her Alpha class daughter, Katelyn Curry, an English major at Concord. "This is not a scholarship they just give to kids and just forget about it," she said.

The former president of Mississippi State University, Foglesong said, "We didn't get paid necessarily to worry about student character issues." Instead, "We got paid to teach student credit hours."

Jarad Cooke, a member of the Charlie class, said the foundation made it a whole lot easier to pay for college, something other graduates from Westside High School in Wyoming County couldn't afford to do.

Cook and his lifelong best friend had planned to room together this year at Concord. But his friend's application for federal student aid didn't work out as expected.

"Now he can't go to Concord with me - so, yeah, that's pretty sad," he said.
Cook plans to attend to the school of osteopathic medicine in Lewisburg after he receives his undergraduate degree.

Foglesong said he expects to see results from the foundation and its fellows in about 10 years, when the current classes have had a couple of years in the work force or are finishing graduate school.

"This is a long-term fix for the requirements we have in the state and in the nation," he said.

As for his own future, Foglesong said a ranch in Montana, the foundation and positions on corporate boards keep him busy.

But when asked, Foglesong did not rule out interest in the top job at West Virginia University, which officials hope to fill within the next nine to 12 months. "I'm not applying for anything," he said.