Jean Wheeler Scholarships Announced at WKCTC's Paducah School of Art and Design

Benton Resident First Scholarship Recipient

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PADUCAH, KY (10/26/2018) More than 40 friends, students and colleagues gathered with Ken Wheeler and his daughters Leslie and Laura for the announcement of two scholarships in honor of their wife and mother, Jean Wheeler, in the Bill Ford Gallery October 25. The gallery is located in West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Paducah School of Art and Design 2D and Graphic Design Building at 905 Harrison Street.

The Jean Wheeler Scholarships were established to honor Mrs. Wheeler, who passed away in February 2018, for her constant support of education in general, with particular emphasis on fine arts as a vital component of the overall well-being of the region and the nation.

"We are extremely grateful to the Wheeler family for supporting arts education through the Jean Wheeler Scholarships. The Wheelers have always been strong supporters of education, and these scholarships will provide important assistance for students while honoring Mrs. Wheeler's wonderful legacy as an advocate for the arts," said Lee Emmons, PJC executive director and WKCTC vice president of institutional advancement.

As a lifelong learner, Jean Wheeler was an avid reader, took flying lessons, learned to play golf, took flute lessons, learned to paint and was accomplished at needlework. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Louisiana State University in her late 50's.

"My dad was always very supportive of that. She had some dear friends who were confused by that decision; 'why would she need to go back to school when she was already a wife and a mother or she was too old'....but my mom persevered, earned her degree, and it was a great source of pride for her," said the Wheeler's daughter Laura. "It is our hope that these scholarships will enable someone else to have that same experience."

Her sister Leslie said the family had been talking about setting up the scholarships for several months. "Now that it's finally come to fruition and we actually have a recipient, it really is real," she said.

Benton native Cole Wyatt, who graduated from Marshall County High School in May 2018, is the first scholarship recipient.

"I've always been interested in art for as long as I can remember...and being the first recipient (of the scholarship) is beyond special," said the 19-year-old Wyatt. "Currently I'm debating on whether I should be an animator or a game artist, and afterwards I'd like to start my own business. The scholarship money will help me use my passion for a living."

The scholarships will be awarded annually on a competitive basis. In addition to meeting all WKCTC admissions standards, candidates must be enrolled in the associate in fine arts degree (AFA) program. Applicants are required to submit a portfolio of work for review and an essay describing educational goals.

From her mother's art books Leslie Wheeler said, "I learned about who Cézanne was, I learned about Michelangelo, and Turner, the British artist...I carry that appreciation (for art) throughout my entire life. My hope is that the recipients of these scholarships over the years will continue that appreciation and share their love of art with their friends and their families."