BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — The competition for a full four-year scholarship to West Virginia Wesleyan came to an end Wednesday with a Ripley High School student following in his parents’ footsteps.

The scholarship, which is valued at $160,000, was awarded to Chris Neil, of Kenna, who will be a senior this fall at Ripley. Neil was named during a luncheon honoring the finalists Wednesday on the Buckhannon campus. The MetroNews West Virginia Scholar Program covers expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board.

WVMetroNews.com

Winner: Christopher Neil, Ripley High School.
2nd Runner Up: River Myers, Richwood High School
1st Runner Up: Madison Martin, Winfield High School.

“To be honest I wasn’t expecting my name to be called at all,” Neil said. “I justified it by thinking it would be a good opportunity to write college essays. When they called my name, I had no words, I was speechless.”

Neil wants to major in microbiology or a similar field and go to medical school, he said he has a personal stake in it.

“I had a lot of medical issues like a congenital heart defect that has haunted me my whole life,” Neil said. “I just want to be able to help people the way those doctors were able to help me.”

Neil said Wesleyan attracted him because their Christian values and the fact his mom, dad, and aunt all attended and graduated from Buckhannon-based school.

Other awards included a four-year, $5,000 scholarship for 2nd place winner Madison Martin of Winfield High School, while 3rd place winner River Myers of Richwood High School received a four-year, $2,500 scholarship.

All of the awards begin with the 2018 fall semester.

Martin said she worked hard on her essay and felt like it would pay off.

“I went into how I am really inspired by diversity,” she said. “I think there is a lot of diversity in West Virginia that people don’t really see. I compared that diversity to that of my marching band, and through that I have been inspired by all kinds of people in different situations.”

Martin added she is interested in hearing other’s opinions, even those she doesn’t agree with, and that she would like to be a journalists.

Neil said he faced stiff competition to claim the top spot, and he wishes all the finalists the best.

“I thought it was a great group of young people,” Neil said. “I hope they get similar opportunities from their achievements.

In addition to MetroNews and West Virginia Wesleyan, the sponsors for the 2017 MetroNews West Virginia Scholar Program are the West Virginia Hospital Association, ZMM Architects and Engineers, the West Virginia Forestry Association, Jim Goolsby and Ed Stike with RBC Wealth Management, the West Virginia Farm Bureau and Friends of Coal.

This year marked the 10th year of the program.

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