Nearly 200 high school students, their family members and friends attended the fourth annual EQT Students of Excellence scholarship awards ceremony Dec. 1 in Charleston.
The event recognized 58 college-bound seniors from around the state for their academic accomplishments and giving back to their communities.
EQT sponsored $1,000 scholarships for 55 students — one from each West Virginia county — and three full-ride scholarships worth up to $18,000 per year.
The Dec. 1 event, sponsored by EQT and The State Journal, honored students interested in studying everything from engineering and computer science/information technology, to energy and environmental safety science.
"We encourage our employees to pursue knowledge, to use creative energies, to work smarter and more efficiently. We look for these unique innovative abilities in people outside. This is why EQT is once again pleased to sponsor the 2012 Students of Excellence," said Charlene Petrelli, vice president of EQT.
"While the energy industry is important to EQT and also communities across West Virginia, continuing to develop and produce natural gas is critical for our country's energy independence. We are pleased to help today's students prepare to become successful," Petrelli later added.
The three winners of the full-ride scholarships are Trevor Clarkson, from Grafton High School; Samantha Dodd, from Wheeling Park High School; and Sarah Law, from Lewis County High School.
Clarkson, who plans to study computer science and engineering at either West Virginia University or West Virginia Wesleyan, said he is excited for the new opportunities that await him.
"This is an excellent opportunity, and I'm excited to be a part of it," he said, noting he owes his success to his family and friends. "I personally want to thank EQT and The State Journal because without them, I wouldn't have this opportunity."
Dodd, who wants to major in engineering at either WVU or Purdue University, also was excited, saying her options are now limitless.
"I want to thank EQT, The State Journal, my parents and everyone who believed in me," she said. "Without them, I wouldn't be here today."
Sarah Law, who wasn't able to attend the event, plans to make a career in engineering or computer science.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., congratulated students and parents, saying he hopes many will either study or return to work in the Mountain State.
"I believe we can compete with anyone in this country and in the world. You don't have to go out of this state to get a good education. You don't have to go out of this state to get a good job," he said.
"It all begins in the classroom," he said, later adding, "There doesn't come a day when you can't teach something or learn something."
Winners of the $1,000 scholarships are: Kayla Adams, Magnolia High School; Courtney Adkins, Clay County High School; Luke Blake, Nitro High School; Seth Blake, Buckhannon-Upshur High School; Whitney Carter, James Monroe High School; Michael Ceravalo, Washington High School; Sydney Chapman, Mingo Central High School; Courtney Clayton, St. Marys High School; Joshua Clevenger, River View High School; Matteo Collett, Weir High School; Ali Cunningham, Ripley High School; Cameron Davis, Westside High School; Malari Davis, Parkersburg South High School; Steven Demyan, Tygarts Valley High School; Trey Duckworth, Grafton High School; Alan Ellis, Lincoln County High School; Emily Ernest, Woodrow Wilson High School; Mohamed Feliachi, Morgantown High School; Conner Ferguson, Gilmer County High School; Casey France, Logan High School; Karalee Geis, Frankfort High School; Thomas Haines, Hampshire High School; Mark Hess, Valley High School; Brice Hickey, Brooke High School; Clayton Irvine, Pocahontas County High School; Zachary Jenkins, Hannan Jr. Sr. High School; Sophie Kemp-Sherman, Greenbrier East High School; Danielle Kendall, Calhoun County High School; Nativa Kesecker, Berkeley Springs High School; Sundus Lateef, Bridgeport High School; Samantha Lucas, Roane County High School; Christopher Luzader, Braxton County High School; Zachary "Luke" Massey, Preston High School; Tori May, Sherman High School; Brianna McClain, Lewis County High School; Michael McCullough, Martinsburg High School; Johnny Midkiff III, Princeton High School; Jessica Miller, North Marion High School; William Mohr, Petersburg High School; Dillon Muhly-Alexander, Doddridge County High School; Colton Oldham, Hurricane High School; Martina Parrish, Tyler Consolidated High School; Jenny Phillips, Phillip Barbour High School; Seth Rader, Tucker County High School; Brittany Ratliff, Pendleton County High School; Andrew Spellman, Ritchie County High School; Jami Strawderman, East Hardy High School; Tiffani Webb, Cabell Midland High School; Andrew Weiss, Summers County High School; Alexandra West, John Marshall High School; Lauren West, Wheeling Park High School; Rachael Williams, Wirt County High School; Rory "Morgan" Williams, Webster County High School; Erin Wroblewski, Spring Valley High School; and Lauren Young, Nicholas County High School.