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Founder: Program is flourishing in fourth year

October 07, 2008 @ 11:25 PM
The Herald-Dispatch

Bill Rosenberger/ The Herald-Dispatch
Robert Foglesong, founder and CEO of Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation, meets monthly with scholarship winners, which attend Concord, Marshall and Shepherd universities. Foglesong was at Marshall this week to talk with (from left) Jese Vance, Paul Cyrus and Bryan Adkins. (not pictured: Lauren Keller)

HUNTINGTON -- Bryan Adkins will be the first to say that he's not sure he'd be a successful sophomore engineering student at Marshall University had it not been for the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation.

ALEF, founded in 2006 by Mingo County native and retired U.S. Air Force General Robert Foglesong, is a scholarship program designed to provide financial support to graduating seniors who have demonstrated academic and leadership abilities but lack the economic means to pay for school.

"I graduated tied for the top of my class (at Tolsia High School), and I was eligible for other scholarships," Adkins said. "But that would have run out and my family (couldn't help). If not for ALEF, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing."
Applications for the class of 2009 will be available Oct. 15 on the organizations Web site, www.alefwv.com. Foglesong, who was at Marshall last week meeting with the engineering program's four scholarship recipients, said he wants high school seniors to know the scholarship program is very different from any other out there. The process includes a thorough application, followed by an interview that includes a sit-down with the student as well as parents. Students must have at least a 2.8 grade point average, demonstrate financial need and many, Foglesong said, have overcome personal challenges and have great character.
"They have an economic need, academic agility and leadership skills," Foglesong said of those accepted into the program. "Our hope is these students will be the next leaders in our communities."

There have been 45 recipients to date, and Foglesong said he would like to have no more than 55 attending the three university partners -- Marshall, Concord and Shepherd -- at any one time because the personal relationships he builds with the students, as well as the relationships the students build between each other, are part of what makes the program different.

"We never want to get too big that we don't know each fellow by their first name," Foglesong said. "What we tell them is 'We're with you.'"

Foglesong said the students are guaranteed enough money to get them through four years of college. That might be in addition to other scholarships and grants, or it may be the total amount for tuition, books and room and board. The bottom line, he said, is ALEF promises four years.
The scholarship recipients also participate, albeit voluntarily, in service projects set up by the foundation. Besides community service, the fellows also can work with the Pride Program, which sends college students to schools to talk to students about character.
Adkins said he is grateful to be an ALEF fellow, especially when he thinks about the support he and others have received from Foglesong and former resource development director Pamela Scaggs.

"They care," Adkins said. "They definitely treat us right and provide us the opportunity to meet with other scholarship winners. When you see other people caring about you, it provides extra motivation to succeed."

There are nine fellows from the surrounding area, and four -- Bryan Adkins, Paul Cyrus, Jese Vance and Lauren Keller -- who attend Marshall University.
For more information, visit www.alefwv.com or call 866-540-2533.