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Article published with permission from The News Journal

University of the Cumberlands Junior Shelby Wilson is the recipient of the Wendal Mitchell Memorial Fund Scholarship.

Mitchell’s family set up his memorial fund with the Upper Cumberland Community Foundation in 2020. Mitchell was known for his impact as an educator and principal at Corbin Independent Schools.

“Mr. Mitchell was a Corbin icon; helping his family create a tribute to his life’s work was a privilege and a primary motivation for establishing a community foundation affiliate serving our area,” said Sandi Curd, an Upper Cumberland Community Foundation board member.

Mitchell’s passion for education started in the early 60s, when he began teaching STEM courses at Corbin High School. He was hired as the first principal at Corbin Middle School in 1978, and he remained in this position until his retirement in 1992.

Shelby Wilson knew Mitchell personally while she attended Corbin High School. “He poured into his community abundantly,” she said, “which is something that I adore about him.”

She also noted the generosity of his family. Wilson said that she is “beyond blessed” to be chosen as the recipient of this scholarship, and she dreams of one day giving back to her community as Mitchell and his family have given to her.

Referring to the Upper Cumberland Community Foundation, Wilson said that “they provide for students in Appalachia, which is so important, because a lot of students don’t get the opportunity to go to college because of money.”

Wilson’s dream is to set up a scholarship of her own in the future, because she believes that every student should be able to attend college.

Currently, Wilson is majoring in biology and minoring in business administration at the University of the Cumberlands in preparation for applying to dental school next year.

In her current position as a dental assistant, Wilson has witnessed the negative effects that drug and alcohol abuse have on the self-esteem of recovering addicts. Wilson hopes to help her patients feel confident in their smiles now and in her future career as a dentist.

“I think that is what makes the school, the job, and dentistry worth it; just seeing people smile,” Wilson said.

The Upper Cumberland Community Foundation is an Eastern Kentucky regional affiliate, working to enrich the quality of life for the citizens of Bell, Clay, Knox, Laurel, and Whitley counties. Donate to the Upper Cumberland Community Foundation at: