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Foundation’s Files-Lowman Scholarship to benefit female biology majors

ISSUED: 9 July 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Shepherd University Foundation announces a scholarship opportunity for female students studying biology at Shepherd. The Files-Lowman Scholarship was established by Shepherd alumna Melanie Files and her husband Rick Lowman.

Files was inspired to create the annually funded award after attending a master naturalist class with Shepherd’s Dr. Laura Robertson, assistant professor of biology. A retired ninth grade science teacher with Morgan County Schools, Files bonded with Robertson over a discussion about the growing number of Shepherd students who demonstrate financial need. Following that conversation, Files and Lowman decided to create a scholarship award in support of junior or senior female students majoring or minoring in biology. If no biology student is eligible, the Files-Lowman Scholarship may be awarded to female students majoring or minoring in chemistry or physics.

“My inspiration came from talking to Laura and thinking we need to help women in science,” said Files, who requested Robertson select the award recipient each year from a list of eligible candidates.

“She’s their instructor, she knows them best, and she’s such a delight,” Files said. “When Laura talks about teaching at Shepherd, she smiles. She just really loves it.”

Files graduated from Shepherd in December 1969 with a B.A. in biology. She and Lowman are each a master gardener, master composter, and master naturalist. The couple teaches a master composting class together through the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority. Lowman serves as president of the Master Gardeners Association and his hobbies include nature photography. Files is a member of Women Investing in Shepherd (WISH) and serves on the organization’s grant committee.

The first award of the Files-Lowman Scholarship was made for the 2019-20 academic year to Brooke Shaffer, a senior biology major from Martinsburg.

“I am so honored to be the first recipient of the Files-Lowman scholarship,” Shaffer said. “As a first-generation college student, it means a lot to me to have my academic achievements recognized. I especially appreciate that this scholarship will support women, as this will help create opportunities for us going into the STEM fields.”

To learn more about making a gift of any size through the Shepherd University Foundation, contact Monica Lingenfelter, Shepherd University Foundation, P.O. Box 5000, Shepherdstown, WV, 25443-5000, 304-876-5397,, or visit the Foundation online at

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