Scholarship recipient credits Potomac State for her success

Deborah Swick-Cruse
Special to the News Tribune
Nikki Cannon

FORT ASHBY - Nikki Cannon, a Fort Ashby resident and 2020 graduate of Potomac State College, is one of three West Virginia University students to have recently been awarded the prestigious U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Since its inception in 2001, the Gilman International Scholarship program has awarded more than 33,000 scholarships to students participating in study abroad programs around the world.

Cannon, a senior honors biology major at WVU, credits PSC professor Joan Vogtman with encouraging her to attend seminars and workshops as well as take advantage of other opportunities related to her major, which inspired her to apply for the Gilman Scholarship.  

She said Potomac State provided her with the tools and preparation she needed for the upper-level courses she’s currently taking on the Morgantown campus, and offered advice to high school seniors.

“College can be an overwhelming transition,” Cannon Said. “Potomac State gave me a great campus experience with approachable professors and smaller classes.”

“Cannon plans to study at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey because of their strong focus in oncology and immunology. While in Turkey, she’ll perform research to help her better understand the human body’s immune response, specifically the physical, chemical and cellular defenses that form the body’s first line of defense against pathogens,” according to Colleen Good, communications specialist at WVU Honors College.

“She was originally scheduled to study abroad last summer but her trip was delayed due to the COVID pandemic,” she said.

Cannon noted that completing the Gilman Scholarship application was a time-consuming and meticulous process, and by the time she decided to apply for it, only two weeks remained prior to the deadline.

“Some people didn’t think I would have enough time to complete the application process; however, they didn’t know that it was on the small campus of Potomac State that I realized all I could achieve by utilizing my resources,” Cannon said. “Resources that included dedicated advisers, insightful administrators, and knowledgeable, caring professors who taught me not to shy away from big opportunities or tight deadlines. Their encouragement gave me the confidence to reach for rare opportunities.”

Cannon will graduate from the Morgantown campus of WVU in Spring 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.  She then plans to complete a post-baccalaureate program at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Other plans include working on her Ph.D. in either microbiology or bioinformatics.

In addition to graduating with honors from PSC, Cannon was named Outstanding Student of the Year and was also recognized as a Whitmore-Gates Scholar at the college with the inscription of her name on the Duke Anthony Whitmore/Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Academic Achievement Wall.