ELKINS - For the seventh consecutive year, Davis Trust Co. has continued its commitment to the nationally recognized Davis & Elkins College Highlands Scholar program. On Monday, the bank presented a check for $12,500 to fully fund one scholarship.
“With the Highlands Scholarship, Davis Trust Co. has been very supportive of students from Randolph County and now all of West Virginia,” says Davis Trust Company Executive Vice President Hugh Hitchcock. “Our board has looked at what the Highlands Scholar program means to the area and found that it’s very important to do our part to help the students attend a fine school like Davis & Elkins.”
The College and Davis Trust share a history that goes back more than 100 years. Both institutions were founded by Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen B. Elkins – the bank in 1899 and the College in 1904.
The Highlands Scholar program was established in 2009 as a means of making a private college education more affordable and more accessible, and initially served students in Randolph, Upshur, Barbour, Pocahontas, Tucker, Pendleton and Webster counties. In 2015, the program expanded to all eligible graduates with at least a 2.5 GPA from any public or private West Virginia high school. Since its inception, 746 students have received the award.
As a result of the Highlands Scholar program, enrollment of students in the original seven counties has grown dramatically. In 2008, before the Highlands Scholar program began, only 17 new students entered D&E from the 10 high schools in the seven-county region. A year later, in 2009 – the first year of the Highlands Scholars – that number jumped to 87. This past fall, 116 new Highlands Scholars entered, bringing the total to 238 Highlands Scholars currently enrolled in all four classes. The average award is $14,000 for residential students and $11,000 for commuter students.
“As a local community bank, we have been glad to support these students,” says Davis Trust Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Price.
In addition to easing the financial burden of a college education, the now statewide Highlands Scholar program aims to help serve as an economic engine by opening the gateway for increasing the number of college graduates in West Virginia.
Ranked 50th among states in the percentage of adults with bachelor’s degrees, West Virginia also has the third lowest median household income and the 10th highest percentage of residents living below the poverty level.
For those who have a college degree, earning potential is significantly higher. It is estimated that young adults with a bachelor’s degree will earn more than twice as much as those without a high school credential, and 57 percent more than young adults with a high school diploma.
Advantages increase for students attending a small, private college. This includes faster and higher graduation rates, which in turn means fewer tuition payments and a lower cost of a degree. According to a recent study, 59 percent of graduates of smaller private colleges finish within four years, compared to 38 percent of graduates of regional public universities.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.
Photo Caption: Davis Trust Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Price, left, presents a $12,500 check to Davis & Elkins College President ‘Buck’ Smith in support of the Highlands Scholar program.