D-B senior named as Yeager Scholar

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 31, 2024

Kingrey honored at Marshall on Tuesday

COAL GROVE — Olivia Kingrey was reaching for the stars and wound up on the moon.

Trying to earn any kind of academic scholarship to further her education, the Dawson-Bryant High School senior landed a Marshall University Yeager Scholarship as she became a member of the 38th class of Yeager Scholars.

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“The scholarships, specifically, I found out about my sophomore year. I’ve been working for any scholarship for a long time now. This one, I learned about my sophomore year,” said Kingrey.

Hoping for any scholarship, Kingrey was filled with emotion when she learned she had been awarded — to steal a phrase from college football’s Rose Bowl — the Granddaddy of Them All.

“I was on a bus on the way home from Washington, D.C. and I was excited but really shocked,” said Kingrey who was on a class trip with members of the junior and senior classes.

Cara Bailey, director of the Society Yeager Scholars, was part of the group who sifted through all the applicants from across the country and selected 8 candidates.

“In the Yeager program, we look for several characteristics from students. One of them is superior academic ability, one is leadership service, community service, the ability to work well with a team or cohort, maturity,” said Bailey.

“We have several characteristics we look for in Yeager scholars. Olivia checked every box. She’s the best of the best, top of the top. Truly, it’s an honor for Marshall and the Yeager program to invited her to be part of the Society of Yeager Scholars.”

The Yeager Scholarship is actually a scholarship program that provides not only tuition along with room and board, but interdisciplinary seminars in the honors college so that the student is learning with a cohort of students who are very supportive and creates a learning environment.

The program also provides professors and administrators to act as academic coaches, a laptop, living stipend, a book stipend, to study abroad and encouraged to learn a foreign language.

“You have a group of cohorts around you who support you and encourage you like you would if you were on the basketball team. You get a lot,” said Bailey with a laugh.

Kingrey — who plans to major in biochemistry — said she keeps a full schedule beyond her regular school hours.

“I volunteer usually three hours a week. I have 310 community service hours. Study-wise, I probably spend 15 hours a week,” she said.

Kingrey is very appreciative of all of the benefits of the Yeager Scholarship, but the one facet that stands out for her is getting to visit Europe.

“It was so exciting because I’ve never traveled out of the country before. I’m going to be staying there for a semester at Oxford (England) University and then a few weeks in a country of my choice,” said Kingrey. “I love studying that type of thing. I love to diversify my experience. I think it will make me a more well-rounded person.”

Kingrey hedged on her choice of country but then hinted at the destination.

“No, not yet but I’m leaning toward Rome,” she said with a big grin.

The Yeager Scholarship is named for legendary West Virginia native Chuck Yeager who was a World War II flying ace and broke the sound barrier.

The scholarship was created by 1957 Marshall University graduate and basketball player Joe Hunnicutt who secured Yeager’s permission to use his name for the scholarship.

As the president of the Big Green Scholarship Foundation, Hunnicutt had the idea for a scholarship that would give students the same comprehensive benefits he received as a member of the basketball team.

“As a basketball player, (Hunnicutt) got the extra coaching, he got the books, he got the tuition, room and board and wonderful financial benefits from being an athlete,” said Bailey. “He thought this would be wonderful if we could create a program that provides the same benefits to our top scholars and that’s where the program came from.”

The Society of Yeager Scholars has almost 300 alumni during its 38 years.