About HEROs

The Higher Education Readiness Officers (HEROs) program was created by the West Virginia GEAR UP program and is now coordinated through the College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV). Like CFWV, the HEROs effort focuses on helping more students plan, apply, and pay for college. HEROs is a school organization made up of students who want to help their classmates succeed. HEROs work to build a college-going culture in their schools and communities.

Participating schools

HEROs groups are active in several high schools across West Virginia. Want to join a HEROs group? Contact the advisor for your school! Want to start a new HEROs group? Find out how.

  • Berkeley Springs High School – Advisor: Rachel Hopkins
  • Bluefield High School – Advisor: Stephanie Blankenship
  • Calhoun County High School – Advisor: Amy Cottrell
  • Elkins High School – Advisor: Kayla White
  • Hedgesville High School – Advisor: Kevin Frankhouser
  • Herbert Hoover – Advisors: Kim Parsons and Holly Sanders
  • John Marshall High School – Advisor: Jonna Kuskey
  • Lewis County High School – Advisor: Mary Hogan
  • Mingo Central High School – Advisors: Andrea Gilman and Christine Harmon
  • Montcalm High School – Advisors: Tara Havens and Adam Havens
  • Oak Glen High School – Advisors: Elissa Greathouse and Sherrie Garner
  • Paw Paw High School – Advisor: Amber Guthrie
  • Pikeview High School – Advisor: Christine Buckland
  • Princeton High School – Advisor: Vacant
  • Riverside High School – Advisor: Bill Denham
  • Scott High School – Advisor: Sonya Dunlap
  • Sherman High School – Advisor: Deborah Null
  • Spring Valley, Tolsia, and Wayne County High Schools – Advisors: Angie Holley, Kathleen Lyons, and Tira Runyon
  • Summers County High School – Advisor: Melissa Kirkham
  • Tug Valley High School – Advisor: Candace Fletcher
  • Van Junior/Senior High School – Advisor: Noelle Chafin
  • Westside High School – Advisors: Keisha Fullmer and Brenda Smith
  • Wyoming East High School – Advisor: Kim Queen

Defining “college”

When we talk about college, we mean any sort of high-quality training beyond high school. This includes certificate programs, two-year associate’s degree programs, and four-year bachelor’s degree programs.

Why it matters…

Many people think that making sure every student has a chance to pursue a college education is one of the greatest civil rights issues of this generation. College graduates…

  • earn more
  • tend to have jobs they like
  • tend to be healthier and happier
  • are more likely to be involved in their communities

But too few West Virginians go on to earn a college degree. As a state, we are missing out on the opportunities that college provides. Our future depends on getting more students to — and through — college. By 2021, more than 51 percent of all jobs in West Virginia will require an associate degree or higher. Right now, only 29 percent of West Virginians have a degree.

What’s the problem?

In the past, attending college was pretty exclusive. Most students who attended college were from wealthier families. Although that system might not have been fair, it worked out ok… at least in terms of economics. Back then, there were plenty of good-paying jobs for high school grads. Now, the workforce has changed and most high-paying jobs require education and training beyond high school. That means ALL students should be pursuing a college diploma.

But here’s the big problem: preparing for college takes a lot of knowledge and planning. Students who are the first in their family to go don’t have a parent who can offer them advice from personal experience. So states like West Virginia, who have a lot of first-generation college students, have to work harder to make sure their students are college-ready. That’s where the HEROs come in…

Your Mission

As a HERO, it’s your job to promote a college-going culture that supports students in the college-going process and encourages them to dream big and earn a certificate or diploma.

The Payoff

College changes lives. By helping your classmates pursue their dreams, you’re giving them a brighter future and creating a better West Virginia! (Plus, we’ll give you a free t-shirt.)