Students from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will walk across the stage
on Saturday, Dec. 21 as they graduate from West Virginia University, ready to
take on the world. As Commencement is upon us, several of our Eberly College
graduates reflect on their time at WVU and their plans for the future.
Kassandra “Kassie” Colón’s three majors of geography, Latin American studies and women’s and gender studies have helped them connect to their roots while a WVU student.
“Upon coming to college, I wanted to dive deeper into my studies to get a clear understanding of myself personally, politically and academically,” said Colón, WVU’s 24th Truman Scholar. “It was my Latin American geography class taught by Dr. Maria Perez that introduced me to the discipline of geography. Within three days of the fall semester sophomore year, I added it as my third major because I felt a gravitational pull to the discipline. Together, these three majors have taught how to think about my Puerto Rican and Mexican identity and community in very intricate ways.
Since then, Perez has become one of Colón’s mentors on campus.
“Dr. Perez has really helped me figure out my sense of self here in relation to my
scholarship,” Colón said. “She taught me to think deeply and intimately with my
research, community and future endeavors. She is particularly special because she
holds a very personal connection to me as the only Latin American woman I've had
as a professor.”
A first-generation student, Colón is motivated to support students and create change in the community. They started the grassroots initiative Project La Resolana in 2018. They match students of color in their home state of Florida and in West Virginia to books on topics of interest, particularly connecting students with their identities.
After graduation, Colón will intern at a policy-focused nonprofit as part of their Truman Scholarship. They will also work as a research scholar at the Ronin Institute, which encourages scholars to pursue creative and innovative scholarship beyond traditional university settings. There, they plan to study the intersections of Puerto Rican studies, community engagement and social justice.
“I will be part of a community of critical thinkers from various disciplines and experiences who will nurture my scholarship through mentorship, seminars and professional development,” Colón said. “I look forward to embracing life and the growth, challenges and joys it brings me. I hope these opportunities will teach me additional values, interests and quirks about myself I haven't encountered yet.”