Changing lives one young woman at a time

STANDING, FROM LEFT: Beth Buck – daughter of Gay and Becky Shinaberry; and Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation Executive Director Courtney Smith; seated are three previous recipients of the Gay and Becky Shinaberry Scholarship: Dayla Lambert (2014), Makinsey Cochran (2012) and Kendra Taylor (2008). Not pictured: Alexandra Luikart, 2015 recipient. C.D. Moore photo
STANDING, FROM LEFT: Beth Buck – daughter of Gay and Becky Shinaberry; and Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation Executive Director Courtney Smith; seated are three previous recipients of the Gay and Becky Shinaberry Scholarship: Dayla Lambert (2014), Makinsey Cochran (2012) and Kendra Taylor (2008). Not pictured: Alexandra Luikart, 2015 recipient. C.D. Moore photo

Cailey Moore
Staff Writer

The school year has come to an end, and as most young people across Pocahontas County prepare for a summer of camping, bonfires on warm summer nights and days spent on the Greenbrier River, the 2016 Pocahontas County High School graduates are preparing to enter a new chapter of life.

College is upon them, and on May 26, PCHS seniors gathered for the school’s annual awards banquet where several were named as recipients of a number of grants and scholarships.

Among the representatives from various colleges, organizations and universities across the state, Maryland resident Beth Buck and two representatives from the Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation [GVCF] were in attendance.

Each year, Buck and GVCF Executive Director Courtney Smith reward one graduating PCHS senior [girl?] with a $20,000 scholarship.

The Gay and Becky Shinaberry Scholarship was established in 2000 as a way to assist young women in the county as they enter into the next challenge of their lives. The award is presented to a graduating senior whose parents did not earn a college degree, and it is given in renewable $5,000 increments for up to four years.

“He [Buck’s father, Gay] thought that education really made a difference for people – that it was a stepping stone,” Buck remarked. “My dad’s view was that, in this area, there are fewer opportunities for women. He and my mother were both very big on education, and that was why they decided to direct the scholarship toward the young women in the county.”

Attlee Gay Shinaberry resides in Maryland, but is a Pocahontas County native by birth. He grew up on a farm near Clover Lick, alongside 13 brothers and sisters, and following his high school graduation, joined the United States Coast Guard. He went on to complete a number of college education classes in business, but never earned his degree.

Once his time in the service came to an end, Gay spent years in the hardware and general merchandise business, while his wife, Becky, worked for the school system as a kindergarten and first grade teacher. It was through their years of hard work and dedication that the Shinaberrys were able to build the funds necessary to give back to the young women in the county.

“He believed that if you could change a young woman’s life, you could change the whole family’s,” added Smith, whose organization took over the scholarship in 2007.

In addition to her parents’ generous gift, Buck presents each scholarship recipient with an additional $1,000 to help off-set some of the costs incurred in their first year at college.

Before Thursday’s Awards Banquet began, Buck, Smith, GVCF Secretary/Treasurer Elizabeth Spangler and four previous scholarship recipients gathered at the Dirt Bean in Marlinton. For an hour and a half, the women shared where they were in life, laughed, and encouraged one another in their hopes and dreams for the future.

2008 recipient Kendra Taylor went on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bridgewater College, in Virginia, and upon graduating in 2012, returned to the county. In the years following, Taylor spent time working in the mental health field and the county’s school system before joining forces with High Rocks Academy.

There, Taylor serves as a Program Coordinator and works closely with middle and high school-aged girls.

Makinsey Cochran – one of the two 2012 recipients – was in attendance, as well, and is a recent graduate of West Virginia University. While at WVU, Cochran earned a degree in Fine Arts and Design and chose Photography as her emphasis. She plans to remain in Pocahontas County for the time-being.

Dayla Lambert, of Bartow, was awarded the Shinaberry Scholarship in 2014 and has just finished her second year at West Liberty University as a Dental Hygiene major. The program typically takes four years to complete, but Lambert’s dedication and hard work will allow her to graduate in three.

Last year’s recipient, Alexandra Plate/Luikart, recently completed her first year at Glenville State College as an Exercise Science major, but plans to pursue a Nursing degree at Davis and Elkins College in the coming years. Upon earning her Bachelor’s, Luikart intends to pursue her Master’s online.

The GVCF had a difficult time narrowing the field for the 2016 recipient of the Shinaberry Scholarship down to one, and instead, made the decision to award the scholarship to both Olivia Dean and Mia Ellison.

Cailey Moore may be contacted at

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