Chris Sharps

Chris Sharps, senior director of recruitment, welcomes parents and visitors to Fairmont State for the SOAR Awards scholarship presentations Tuesday.

FAIRMONT – Every prospective student of Fairmont State University earned a $500 scholarship just by showing up to an event Tuesday evening.

It was also an opportunity for them to meet with staff and faculty and even representatives of student organizations, to get an idea of the university and its campus, as well as the main prize of a $500 scholarship SOAR Award.

“For students to earn the SOAR Award, they just need to register to attend the event and come out,” said Chris Sharps, senior director of recruitment at Fairmont State. “Our SOAR Awards are unlimited so any student who comes out will receive the $500 award. It is renewable, so a student can earn up to $2,000 as long as they maintain the GPA.”

According to Sharps, SOAR stands for Scholarship Opportunity Achievement and Responsibility, and the scholarship is given to any student who attends one of the SOAR Award sessions. Over the next two weeks, representatives of Fairmont State will be traveling the state to meet with prospective students, who will also be able to earn a SOAR Award through attendance at one of the events.

“The SOAR Awards are geared to students who are considering Fairmont State or have already made their decision,” Sharps said. “It is an incentive to get them to engage in the admission process and come out to ask questions of the representatives that are available from the different departments.”

Tuesday was the first SOAR Awards event at Fairmont State, which normally gets the biggest crowd of people because it opens up the campus to potential students for the event. Being on campus, the event was able to show students what university life would be like if they go on to choose Fairmont State.

“This is kind of the first step in welcoming students to the Falcon Family,” said Corey Hunt, senior director of enrollment at Fairmont State. “It’s Fairmont State’s way of investing in students who want to come to us by giving them a scholarship and trying to enable them to attend Fairmont State.”

According to Hunt, Fairmont State has been holding the SOAR Awards for the past two years, and it as gathered bigger crowds each time. Even at the events in external locations, Fairmont State representatives see relatively large crowds of students interested in learning more about the university.

“This is the third year we’re doing it; last year was so big we had to split up the Fairmont event into two events,” Hunt said. “We still usually see crowds of about 50 students with parents, about 100 people total, and we’re very happy with the turnout.”

Hunt said that the on-campus events are a big draw even for out-of-towners because they want to make the trip to visit Fairmont State.

“Even this event, you’ll see students drive three hours to get here,” Hunt said. “They want that scholarship obviously but they also want a chance to see the campus.”

The representatives available at the SOAR Awards event were also a draw because people of different departments can talk to potential students about campus life and Fairmont life, as well as the advantages Fairmont State possesses as a university.

“We’re hoping today that they can come in and meet their future faculty members, talk to financial aid and check off everything that is on their boxes,” Hunt said. “I think if students are looking for certain niche programs, a smaller institution, that’s where we excel. I think we have high-quality academics in a smaller package.”

The next home event for the SOAR Awards is from 5-8 p.m. Feb. 19 in Colebank Hall and those interested in attending can register at Sharps encourages anyone interested in potentially attending Fairmont State to go to a SOAR event because they offer an early opportunity to discover the university.

“This is an opportunity for students to come out and help us provide them with enough information to make their decision,” Sharps said. “Each of the university’s schools or colleges has a representative here this evening, and as well as some of the individual majors and student organizations as well.”

Email Eddie Trizzino at and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.

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