Passionate about both social justice work and research, West Virginia University student Myya Helm is a finalist for the prestigious British Marshall Scholarship which offers more than 40 young Americans of high ability the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom for two full-funded years toward a graduate degree.
Helm, also a finalist for Mountaineers of Distinction, a competitive award that recognizes exemplary academic achievement and extracurricular involvement at WVU, will interview for the Marshall Scholarship on Nov. 7.
This is just the next step in an academic career that has shown Helm’s commitment to community, social justice and international studies. She has represented WVU on its United Nations team, interned with the U.S. Department of State and worked as a West Virginia state legislative intern. Helm is a board member for the West Virginia Black Heritage Festival and is currently working for the WVU LGBTQ+ Center as an AmeriCorps VISTA. An Honors College senior from West Union, she is also a Gilman International Scholar and an Eberly Arts and Sciences Scholar, and has been awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Arabic in Jordan.
Currently a double major in political science and international studies with a minor in Arabic studies, Helm plans to continue her academic journey at Cardiff University with a two-year research Master of Philosophy in history with a focus on the Welsh history of Black working class coal miners.
"There are a lot of similarities between the history of West Virginia and Wales, both major coal producers and exporters in the 20th century,” Helm said. “With the Marshall Scholarship, I’m excited for the opportunity to study the impact of industrialization and the history of Black working class coal miners in Cardiff the same way I have in West Virginia. This experience would be highly impactful on my research, allowing me to critically document those legacies that have previously been lost to history, either intentionally or unintentionally."
After graduate school, Helm plans to return to the United States to earn both her Master of Arts and doctoral degrees in sociology from Howard University.
“Myya Helm has proven herself a rising star in West Virginia social justice work, as well as a scholar to be reckoned with; her scholarly plan should she be awarded a Marshall will enable her to connect under-served communities in the UK and in West Virginia,” Dr. Lisa Di Bartolomeo, Marshall Scholarship faculty advisor, said.
Founded by a 1953 Act of Parliament and named in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C Marshall, the British Marshall Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan and they express the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts.
WVU has had three previous British Marshall scholarship recipients, including Di Bartolomeo.
The ASPIRE office prepares students for highly competitive scholarships. Students who are interested in applying should email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.