Four West Virginia University students have been awarded the Horace and Geraldine Belmear Scholarship, an honor created by Black alumni to expand opportunities for minority students – specifically Black, Indigenous and people of color.
The Belmear Scholarship honors a legacy of excellence cultivated by the late couple during their tenure at WVU from the 1970s into the 2000s. The Belmears worked together via complementary administrative roles to recruit, retain and support a generation of Black students, becoming surrogate parents to many.
This year’s scholarship recipients are junior Morgan Montgomery, sophomore Cierra Jones and incoming freshmen Sona Magassouba and Drew Roby.
“On behalf of the Belmear Scholarship Committee, we aim to build a path for scholarship recipients just as bridges were built for us by the Belmears, our families and extended families in our journey to West Virginia University,” the scholarship committee said in a statement. “We recognize that education is one of the keys to future success. We wish these recipients the best as they seek their paths to success. We encourage everyone to pay it forward with our future scholarship efforts. We’re only beginning!”
Montgomery, of Greenville, Tennessee, is an avid football fan working toward a bachelor’s degree in sport management. He currently works as a student recruiting assistant for WVU football as he pursues his dream: a front-office job with an NFL franchise.
He is grateful for the financial support provided by the Belmear Scholarship.
“It’s a great honor, and I’m very appreciative to receive this award,” Montgomery said.
Jones, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was inspired to help others after her father passed away in her childhood. She was drawn to WVU because the University offers excellent programs in multiple areas of interest to her. Now a pre-nursing major, she is considering career paths as a registered nurse, pediatric specialist or travel nurse.
As a Belmear Scholarship recipient, she finds it encouraging to see her hard work pay off and know that others believe in her. She appreciates the generosity and support of WVU’s Black alumni.
“They might have faced, heard, taken notice or are just more aware of how difficult it really can be as a person of color or a minority and just how underrepresented we are,” Jones said. “Them taking their knowledge and making it easier for us, or just letting us know that they support us and are aware of what we have to go through and represent us, it means a lot.”
WVU was the top college choice for Magassouba, a native of Charleston. She is interested in becoming a labor and delivery nurse, and she plans to major in exercise physiology because it offers a broad variety of professional options – including physical therapy and athletic training.
She is thankful for scholarships that will reduce her debt upon graduation, but she said the Belmear Scholarship is particularly meaningful.
“In the Black community, it’s important that we help each other out, especially at a time like this,” Magassouba said. “I’m very excited to continue my education, and I’m very blessed and grateful to have received this scholarship.”
West Virginia’s mountains and other outdoor assets attracted Roby, of Dixon, Illinois, to WVU, where he plans to major in sport management. He hopes to become a trainer or sports agent, so he can help professional athletes like his brother, Isaiah Roby, a forward for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
He is especially honored to receive a scholarship created by Black alumni and promised to make them proud of their investment in his education.
“Getting aid is about the best thing that could possibly happen,” Roby said. “You should accept any type of aid that comes your way. It’s there for a reason, and I’m here to make the best out of it. … I know that I’ve been given a special chance to get a top-notch education at West Virginia [University], so I’m not going to waste it.”
Black alumni leaders are eager to increase minority enrollment and make higher education more affordable for students from underrepresented groups by boosting support for the Belmear Scholarship. Gifts can be made via a dedicated secure online giving page. All gifts are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.