by Laurel Overby, University Advancement
Ciara Cifers, a recent graduate of Greensville County Senior High School in Emporia, Virginia, is the recipient of the Harriett Pittard Beales Scholarship at William & Mary for the academic year 2016-17.
The merit-based scholarship provides approximately $4,000 in tuition assistance to an incoming first-year student from South Central Virginia.
“I was filled with joy when I found out I received the scholarship,” said Cifers, a first generation college student. Seen by those around her as a phenomenal student and citizen, Cifers was never afraid to take the more demanding programs of study, helping her become an exemplary student. This determination allowed Cifers to pave the way for her to rank as the valedictorian of her class.
Not only has Cifers experienced success in academia, she is also the co-captain and Coach’s Award recipient for the Lady Eagles volleyball team. She is involved in various community service programs and works 17 hours each week as a waitress at a local restaurant.
Established in 1984, the Beales Scholarship honors the late Harriett Pittard Beales, a former high school teacher, lifelong community servant and Boydton resident who touched the lives of many, including numerous young people, some of whom she mentored well into her 80s. She died in August 2013, shortly after her 100th birthday. The scholarship was established by her sons, Walter R. Beales III, an attorney in Boydton and a member of the William & Mary Class of 1966, and Randolph A. Beales, a judge on the Virginia Court of Appeals and former Virginia attorney general, who graduated from William & Mary in 1982.
“This scholarship brings together two important parts of our mother’s life — southern Virginia and the College of William & Mary,” Walter Beales III said. “Our family is delighted to be able to honor her by helping outstanding students from this region attend the school to which we all feel so connected.”
Cifers personifies the type of student chosen for the scholarship since its establishment. Recipients are selected based on academic performance, extracurricular community activities and service, outstanding character and other personal achievements. Students from the city of Emporia and 12 counties — Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward — are considered for the award once they have been admitted to William & Mary.
“I love the atmosphere at the College. I attended one of the Fall Focus Days, and that’s when I knew I wanted to attend William & Mary,” said Cifers. “The faculty and staff at William & Mary are some of the best out there, so I know I will receive a great education as I pursue my degree in elementary education.
“When I first learned I had been awarded the Beales Family Scholarship, I could not believe it. This scholarship will help me worry less about how I will fund my education and allow me to focus more on my classes.”
William & Mary is committed to providing the finest education to students of the highest caliber. This is why scholarship support is the top priority in the For the Boldfundraising campaign, said Matthew T. Lambert '99, vice president for university advancement. The university’s prestige as a public ivy hinges on its ability to assemble the best minds in the country and to create the ideal community where inquiry and excellence thrive. Competition for the best and brightest students is intense, and the College must act boldly to ensure that scholars of exceptional quality advance their academic pursuits at William & Mary, he said. Merit-based scholarships, such as the Beales Scholarship, are essential to this effort.