Shepherdstown Elementary student Stella Vanhilst won West Virginia Treasurer John Perdue’s “When I grow up” essay contest.
Stella wrote about her passion for bugs and dinosaurs and hers hopes to become an entomologist or a paleontologist when she grows up.
“I wrote that I want to be a paleontologist and entomologist. I like dinosaurs because one of my favorite dinosaurs is the one with the long neck and spiders are really cool too,” said Stella.
Perdue explains that going to college was the best thing that ever happened to him, so helping out students is something that brings a lot of joy to his life.
“That’s what I thought I was going to be and play basketball, but I blew out a knee and that didn’t happen and I realized I was too tall to go into coal mines,” said Perdue. “A teacher recognized that it’s important for me to go to college and that’s the best thing that’s ever happened in my life is getting a college education. It encourages child at the same time to think ‘I gotta work hard at school and do my homework’ and be able to go to college and it changes a lot of kids lives.”
Stella received $500 towards her college savings plan and won an additional $500 for her school. Stella’s Mothers Christina said that she is so excited for her daughter’s future, and if Stella changes her mind, she fully supports anything she chooses to do.
“I’m excited that as a young girl, she knows that she can be anything that she wants to be and I support her in becoming anything she wants to be.”
Coming up in September, 14 other students alongside Stella will go on to win $4,500. Hardy County students Jaylynn Gano and Savannah Wilkins of East Hardy Early Middle School will go on to represent the Eastern Panhandle.