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WVU Foundation initiative provides nearly $281K to students in need

WVU Today 

As West Virginia University prepares for the spring semester, the generosity of Mountaineer Nation is empowering students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to proceed with their education.

As of late December, 254 WVU students had been awarded $280,863 in scholarships for the 2020-21 school year via “We Are Stronger Together,” a special fundraising initiative launched by the WVU Foundation. Contributions to the ongoing effort assist WVU students affected by the pandemic with tuition, room and board, and other educational expenses.

Since the start of the school year, the number of students who have benefited from the initiative has more than tripled as scholarship gifts increased.

Kara DiNardo, a freshman pre-pharmacy major, said scholarship support helped her continue her studies after her father’s employer reduced hours and laid off workers due to the pandemic.

“To the people who donated, thank you so much,” DiNardo said. “It means a lot, especially during these unprecedented times. To those considering donating, know that your donation wouldn’t go unnoticed and would be appreciated by many other kids like me.”

Freshman Seth O’Neal is pursuing a degree in nursing. He hopes to eventually improve care for patients across the country as a traveling nurse.

“Without receiving scholarship aid, I wouldn’t be able to achieve this goal,” O’Neal said. “I would have to work longer hours. I would have to sacrifice study time. I wouldn’t be able to receive the full benefits of getting an education.”

Ram Jitendrabhai Zaveri, an international student, majoring in neuroscience and computer science, was unable to return home following the spring 2020 semester due to COVID-19 restrictions. His uncle died of the virus, and Zaveri’s father provided aid to the family. In the meantime, Zaveri relied on a research position and donor support to proceed with his education.

“The name of the scholarship is ‘We Are Stronger Together,’ right? We are, indeed, stronger together,” Zaveri said. “I really appreciate your support and your help during this time period.”

Donations to the “We Are Stronger Together” scholarship initiative can be made by contacting Jena Prokopchuk, WVU Foundation executive director of leadership annual giving, at 304-282-5929 or, or online via a secure giving webpage.

Students who believe they qualify should contact the Mountaineer Hub and submit an online ticket requesting assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Office of Financial Aid oversees awarding scholarships for all WVU students in accordance with each student’s aid eligibility.

All gifts to the “We are Stronger Together” initiative are made through the Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the university.