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Judges

An independent panel of seven judges from West Virginia selected this year's winners of the EQT Students of Excellence scholarship.

Those judges — Allison Barker with the W.Va. Department Education, Kelsey Clough with the Higher Education Policy Commission, Jessica Wintz with the Education Alliance, Jim Strawn with Highland Hospital, Margaret O'Neal with the United way of Southern West Virginia, Daniel Wagner with the Boy Scouts of America and Kathie Brown of Wheeling Health Right  — had the challenging task of picking just 58 students out of more than 200 applications that were submitted by teachers, principals, family members and others.

"We would like to thank all the judges for their participation in selecting the EQT Students of Excellence scholarship award recipients," said Lauren Mani-Ogrinz, business manager for The State Journal. "Each student nominated was deserving of the scholarship, and they should all be proud of their achievements."

In particular, judges looked for students who showed good academic aptitude, a dedication to their community and involvement in extra-curricular activities. 

"The judges collaboratively selected the students that not only had outstanding academics but also demonstrated community involvement and extracurricular activities," Mani-Ogrinz said. "The students receiving this scholarship are all talented individuals who are making a difference to better their schools, their communities and their futures.

Judges couldn't have done their job, however, without the help of the state Higher Education Policy Commission, the Department of Education and guidance counselors, principals, teachers and family members throughout the state who helped to get the word out about the scholarship and encourage students to apply.

"On behalf of The State Journal, I thank everyone who took the time to encourage a student to apply for the scholarship," said Beth Gorczyca Ryan, managing editor of The State Journal. "Sometimes it isn't easy for a student, especially ones who are busy balancing classes, clubs and sports, to take time to apply for scholarships. Other times, students don't think they will win, so they don't even try. But thanks to the support and encouragement from teachers, family members and friends, the 58 students recognized this year will receive financial help to go to college and accomplish their dreams."