2008, Appalachian Leadership
and Education Foundation
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By PAMELA SCOTT JOHNSON
Staff Writer

Appalachian Leadership Education Foundation welcomes a new Fellow into its family. Eighteen-year old Robert May was one of the 15 chosen across the state. With the help of partners and sponsors, ALEF works to identify potential leaders in financial need, fund their college studies, and provide additional training. Pictured left to right are: George Poole, Robert May, sponsor Larry Hannah and 2007 class of Fellows Dustin Blankenship.

Someone once said, “a leader doesn’t follow a path, he makes his own.”
For close to four years Appalachian Leadership Education Foundation has been preparing select members of the Tug Valley youth to create their own paths.

General Robert “Doc” Foglesong founded the Foundation with the goal to identify potential leaders in financial need, fund their college studies, and provide additional training. Each year around 15 students from throughout West Virginia are chosen as “Fellows” of the Foundation and awarded full scholarships.

There are 45 fellows now, representing 14 Appalachian towns across West Virginia. The 2008 Fellow is Gilbert resident Robert May. The young gentleman told the Daily News he plans to attend Concord University and major in education.

Foglesong met with the newest fellow Thursday who was accompanied by the 2007 inductee Gilbert High School alumni Dustin Blankenship. Blankenship is attending Concord University as well where he is a pre-law major.

One of the requirements of the program is scholarship recipients must attend either Concord, Shepherd or Marshall Universities. They also must be a graduating high school senior with at least a 2.8 grade point average and have exhibited character and leadership skills through academic, athletic, or religious extracurricular activities.

“We’ve found the next generation of leaders and our responsibility is to provide the opportunity for leadership and they’ll stay with us,” Foglesong said on ALEF's website. “The foundation will mentor the students through their college careers and beyond.”

The foundation has partnered with Concord, Shepherd, and Marshall Universities, and with help from over 200 businesses, private foundations and individuals, assures that the recipients’ expenses will be covered at one of those institutions.

ALEF has put up some pretty impressive numbers since its inception. Thus far there has been zero percent attrition as all classes have returned to school. Twenty two of the 31 Fellows are participating in student leadership activities. With an average G.P.A. of 3.56, every single one of the Fellows was identified for high academic honors..

The first inductees were dubbed Charlie class and 100 percent of this class is in leadership positions in their schools and communities. Sixty-five percent of the Charlie class had perfect attendance and all indicated special circumstances such as single parent households, disabled family members, or special needs for siblings, which impacted their financial ability to attend college.

Former Resource Development Director Pamela Scaggs said that many of the candidates come from very challenging experiences, and worked through their high school years while still performing community services.

The Fellows attend regular meetings and social events as well as “completing a leadership development program with a focus on community service.” They will be aided by the foundation with developing leadership skills and a plan for a successful future.