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WVU Libraries names two Munn Scholars

West Virginia University Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Committee has selected Hannah Coffey and Kelsey R. Eackles as 2019 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library scholars. 

Hannah Coffey
Hannah Coffey

“All of us at WVU Libraries are pleased to name Hannah Coffey and Kelsey Eackles as Munn Scholars,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “Both exceeded expectations with their remarkable efforts in researching their topics and then writing their impressive works of scholarship.”

The WVU Libraries and the Honors College established the Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars Award in 2009 to honor Robert F. Munn, dean of Library Services from 1957-1986. The award goes to one or more Honors students for an outstanding humanities or social sciences thesis based on research conducted in the WVU Libraries. Along with a $1,000 award, the scholar’s name is added to a plaque in the Downtown Campus Library.

“How wonderful that every year we have students producing research and scholarship in humanities and social sciences that give us insight into human experience, and that undergraduate researchers like Kelsey and Hannah are joining their mentors in building new knowledge across the curriculum,” said Ryan Claycomb, interim dean of the Honors College.

Coffey won for her thesis “Childhood Trauma: An Analysis of Trauma Severity, Symptoms, and Contributing Factors.” The Hedgesville native developed her topic while working at the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center with Executive Director Laura Capage.

“It is important that people know how to identify the warning signs of child abuse and report concerns they have,” Coffey said. “It’s easy to close yourself off – child abuse is happening, and anyone can play a role in helping the children in their community.”

Coffey graduated in December 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. She was accepted into the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, where she plans to be part of a lab focusing on childhood trauma. 

Kelsey Eackles
Kelsey Eackles

After earning her doctorate, she envisions a career in a Child Advocacy Center.

“Working closely with families is a passion of mine. To be a part of their story and their healing is empowering,” Coffey said.

Eackles won for her thesis “Exploring Provider-Patient Interactions with Young Children in the Dental Setting.” Her interest in the topic sparked while working in WVU’s Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Lab with Dr. Cheryl McNeil. At the time, McNeil began working on a grant with her husband, Dan McNeil, who works primarily in dental settings

“They wanted to transfer the PCIT skills into the dental setting,” Eackles said. “My project is sort of a pilot study for that grant to explore what’s naturally occurring so they can use those findings to guide the training in the future.”

The Shepherdstown native was originally a biology major, but switched to psychology after she got involved in the PCIT Lab and its research.

“I fell in love with clinical psychology and how you can change behavior with just a few skills,” Eackles said. “So, with this project, I loved the idea of transferring these ideas into another setting.”

Eackles will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in psychology this May. In the fall, she’ll begin pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Ohio University.

She’s keeping all doors open for the future.

“If I want to pursue the clinician/therapy side of the field, I can do that. But if I also want to be involved in research or academia, I can do that too. Or I could find a route into a government agency,” Eackles said. “I have interests in all those avenues, so I’m excited about figuring out which path I will take over these next five years.”