What started as a crowdfunding project to honor the memory of Susan West Marmagas, who was director of Virginia Tech’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program and an associate professor of practice in the Department of Population Health Sciences, has evolved into an endowment. Marmagas’ brother and sister-in-law, Roger and Deborah West, pledged the difference between what was raised in the campaign and endowment level to create a new permanent scholarship.

The Susan West Marmagas Public Health Endowed Scholarship Fund began as part of a Virginia Tech campaign spearheaded by friends and colleagues to honor the memory of Marmagas, who died on Dec. 23, 2018. The Wests wanted to honor the intention behind the campaign and the dedication and passion of Marmagas, so they created a permanent fund in Marmagas’ memory.

Marmagas was passionate about improving health in rural Appalachian communities while championing her public health students both professionally and personally. The first endowed scholarship in the Department of Population Health Sciences will support underrepresented students in the program. Based on Marmagas’ desire to improve access to public health in Appalachian communities, students who grew up in the region, or are from families in Appalachia, will receive priority for the award each year.

Marmagas’ career focused on engaging health professionals and scientists in strategic discussions with the goal of implementing evidence-based protective public policy. This scholarship will lead to new champions for this important goal.