SHEPHERDSTOWN – Three Shepherd University students were recognized Thursday for being the first to receive scholarships through the BrickStreet Scholars Program, made possible by a $500,000 endowment from BrickStreet Mutual Insurance.
BrickStreet is a West Virginia-based insurance company created after the privatization of the state’s workers’ compensation program. The company assists West Virginia workers and employers by improving the medical and compensation benefits for workers who are injured on the job while reducing costs for employers.
According to Greg Burton, CEO of BrickStreet Mutual Insurance, the BrickStreet Foundation decided that in addition to assisting injured workers and their families, the company should support higher education in West Virginia.
“Our board of directors decided that we were going to give a gift to our foundation of about $10 million and we were going to take that money and give it to different schools across West Virginia,” Burton said. “While we were looking around the state, someone identified Shepherd as a place to potentially give the money.”
Burton said he contacted Monica Lingenfelter, executive vice president of the Shepherd University Foundation, and the BrickStreet Scholars Program at Shepherd University was born.
Lingenfelter said the $500,000 endowment from the BrickStreet Foundation will be invested, and the income earned will support scholarships in perpetuity. Up to 10 students can receive the scholarships each academic year.
Lingenfelter said the criteria for a student to be eligible to receive scholarships through the BrickStreet Scholars Program include having a family member affected by an on-the-job accident and good academic performance. She said there is a preference for students in nursing, mathematics or education majors.
Additionally, the BrickStreet Foundation will form a committee that will work closely with faculty and administrators at Shepherd University to select students to receive scholarships.
Devin Sperry, a 21-year-old mathematics major, is one of the three students who was presented with a BrickStreet scholarship at Thursday’s ceremony.
Sperry said he was told by a professor that he had been nominated to receive the scholarship.
“It’s a great honor (to receive the scholarship) and it’s going to be very beneficial for me to be able to pay for my education,” he said. “Everything is so expensive, and it can be very difficult to pay your way through college. I’m grateful they’re being so generous.”
Shawn Winpigler, a 20-year-old instrumental music education major, said he applied for the scholarship through the education department, and was notified he was selected as a recipient via email. He said students in the music education major are part of both the education and music departments.
“It feels really good to be recognized. Sometimes, at some universities, music is overlooked. It just feels good to be included,” he said. “I plan to use the money to offset the cost of textbooks, because those are very expensive.”
Alicia Napier, a 20-year-old nursing major, said she found out about her scholarship when she got a phone call saying faculty in the nursing department had nominated her. Napier said she was selected because she had the highest grade point average in her class.
“It means more than money to me, because I work really hard. I have a group of people behind me who are supporting me, and that gives me motivation to get my best grades and do my best. I want to become a nurse to give back to the community,” she said. “The money helps, but to me, this is proof that my hard studying has paid off.”
Photo: The first-ever recipients of the BrickStreet Scholars Program at Shepherd University pose with President Mary J.C. Hendrix ’74 and Greg Burton, CEO of BrickStreet Mutual Insurance. Shown with their award certificates are (from l.) Devin Sperry, Alicia Napier, and Shawn Winpigler.