The cost of medical school became easier to bear for seven students at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) when they were awarded scholarships through funds provided by the Encova Foundation of West Virginia, the charitable arm of Encova Insurance.
A total of $65,000 was awarded for the 2020-21 academic year, with scholarships ranging in value from $5,000 to $20,000. The scholarships are funded by a $900,000 endowment that Encova gifted the school through the WVSOM Foundation in 2016, when the company was known as BrickStreet Insurance.
Fourth-year students Lucas Goodwin and MacKenzie Sloas, third-year students Megan Farley and Madeleine Gwinn, second-year student Anthony Aswad, and first-year students Abundance Hunt and Tanner Moore were this year’s recipients. On-campus awardees gathered in the Roland P. Sharp Alumni Conference Center for a socially distanced ceremony on Oct. 19, joined by WVSOM President James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., and other members of the school’s administration. Attending via teleconference were a recipient in the WVSOM Statewide Campus system, where students in their final two years of medical school gain experience in clinics and hospitals, and a recipient on rotation in Florida.
First-year student Hunt said the scholarship will help her attain her goal of becoming a physician who practices in West Virginia.
“I’ve been working so hard during my first weeks of medical school, and I was excited to hear that I was receiving this,” she said. “Being selected takes off some of the financial burden that medical school brings, and it will allow me to focus on my studies and complete my dream of coming back and working here in Lewisburg and serving the community I grew up in.”
The Encova scholarships are the largest annual financial awards provided through the school’s WVSOM Foundation, said Heather Antolini, the foundation’s executive director.
“The WVSOM Foundation appreciates Encova’s commitment to students through gifts that have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for students at WVSOM,” Antolini said. “Their generosity has helped to decrease the financial burden for many students on the path to becoming our future health care heroes.”
Since the 2017-18 academic year, $287,000 has been awarded to 17 WVSOM students through the endowment. Combined with an initial $600,000 donation from BrickStreet in 2015 and interest earned from that donation, the company has enabled the WVSOM Foundation to provide $915,000 to 38 students.