Student Involvement

Virginia E. Thomas Endowed Scholarship

The Virginia E. Thomas Endowed Scholarship honors a legacy of excellence, integrity, character, discovery, and service. Established by Virginia's colleagues, friends, and students, the scholarship is awarded concurrently with the President’s Awards for Leadership and announced during The Leadership and Engagement Awards of Distinction held annually on the Pullman campus.

Virginia E. Thomas Portrait

Virginia E. Thomas


As director of the Leadership Center at Washington State University from 1995 to 2003, Virginia E. Thomas served the university and its students in a variety of roles, through which she displayed a breadth of leadership knowledge, skills, and qualities. As an advisor to the Associated Students' officers and other organizations, Virginia demanded excellence, modeled integrity, and encouraged discovery and innovation. Virginia was a true servant leader to students, bringing passion, courage, and perspective to her work of student development. We honor her legacy with this award.

Kels Barton

Kelis Barton

2020 Recipient Kelis Barton

Kelis is a WSU Pullman student from Seattle, WA on the Women's Soccer Team. She has served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee since her freshman year, is an active member of the Black Student-Athlete Association and is a PAC Mentor, tutor, and social media intern for WSU Athletics. 

She has demonstrated her abilities to mentor and coach others through her work with her fellow student-athletes when they facilitated the Behind Happy Faces program to student-athletes from Pullman High School. Through her experiences, she's also been able to bring groups together to find common purpose.

Selection criteria

Washington State University is guided by a commitment to excellence embodied in a set of core values. Nominees for this scholarship must first be considered for the President's Award for Leadership, based on their leadership experiences and qualities relative to:

  • Inquiry and Innovation
  • Excellence
  • Character and Integrity
  • Stewardship

The scholarship is bestowed upon a WSU Pullman student who, in addition to the criteria above, demonstrates:

  • A minimum of 45 credits at WSU Pullman
  • Ability to inspire others
  • Knowledge of leadership concepts
  • Innovation
  • Leadership coaching/mentoring of others
  • Membership/participation in a registered student organization

Selection process

In addition to submitting an application for the President's Awards, applicants must submit an essay describing a situation or role in which the student has mentored or coached other students to improve as leaders, specifically articulating their skills and/or qualities in integrity, servant leadership, encouraging discovery, and passion.

Once selected, the awardee will be expected to serve as a representative of the scholarship and the legacy that has remained from Virginia's work; including, but not limited to serving on future selection committees, assisting with ongoing leadership development initiatives, and promoting the President's Awards for Leadership and the scholarship.

This necessitates the recipient to be an enrolled student at WSU Pullman for the year following their selection, either as a graduate or undergraduate student.