The Ira and Gladys West Scholarship Fund
The Dahlgren Heritage Museum is leading the effort to establish a mathematics scholarship in honor of two lifelong Dahlgren employees, Ira and Gladys West. The Wests have lived in the King George community since they graduated college in the late 1950s. Both worked at the Dahlgren Navy Base and made many little known contributions to the Navy in their years there. Dr. Gladys West, a mathematician who contributed to the development of GPS, was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2018. She was among a small group of women who manually executed computing for the US military in the era before electronic systems. Though not featured in the film, her work was later depicted in the movie Hidden Figures. Mr. West spent the majority of his career working on Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile programs and was one of the first African American supervisors on the base. Even today, the Wests continue to work with and inspire elementary school students by enhancing reading skills and through mentoring.
The Dahlgren Heritage Museum is a small non-profit organization dedicated to gathering, preserving, interpreting, displaying and maintaining the artifacts that are the physical, intellectual, social and cultural heritage of the U.S. Navy Base and community at Dahlgren. In other words, telling the stories of Dahlgren. As Dahlgren celebrates its centennial year, the Museum hopes to tell the stories of the community’s many contributions to the Navy and accomplishments of its hidden figures such as Gladys and Ira West.
The Dahlgren Navy Base is located in King George, a largely rural community with many first generation college students. As college costs continue to rise, it is crucial that all students have the ability to afford education – particularly those who wish to pursue mathematics and other STEM degrees.
Each year, The Ira and Gladys West Scholarship Fund will award at least one annual scholarship of $1,000 to a graduating senior in King George County. The West family and the Dahlgren Heritage Museum believes in the “hidden” power of an education rich in math and sciences. With this scholarship, they hope to support students pursuing a degree in mathematics or other Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) related fields. Priority will be given to high achieving and highly motivated students with demonstrated financial need.
Scholarships are eligible for yearly renewal but require reapplication and will be considered along with all applicants for the award.
Photo (top) credit: Mike Morones/The Free Lance-Star
Donors help students achieve their dreams through education by establishing or contributing to a scholarship fund. Community Foundation staff help donors establish guidelines for students to apply for financial assistance through the fund. Scholarship eligibility might be based on a student’s achievement or a demonstration of financial need. Some scholarships focus on community involvement, a commitment to a particular field of study or demonstration of leadership ability. Some donors choose to meet or correspond with students after the selection process is complete.