In association with the ongoing generosity of the Eberly family, the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board established the Eberly Scholars program in 1988. Each year, up to 25 students majoring in the arts and sciences are designated as Eberly Scholars. They are provided with scholarship support in recognition of their outstanding academic achievement. This award is the Eberly College’s most prestigious scholarship honor for undergraduate students. Meet all of this year's Eberly Scholars.Talia Buchman
How did you choose your major?
I started college majoring in forensic and investigative science and switched to anthropology early in the spring semester of freshman year. I started considering majoring in anthropology when I took the Introduction to Anthropology class in my first semester. There was one day when we spent the entire lecture discussing Jane Goodall, her contributions to primatology and primates in general. Jane Goodall has been my role model ever since I can remember, so that day meant so much to me! I had never thought about the fact that what Jane Goodall did was a career path I could also pursue until that day. A short time later I switched my major, and I could not be happier with that decision!
How would you explain your major to a new WVU student? What advice would you give them?
Anthropology is the study of humans through culture, linguistics, archaeology and biological anthropology. Biological anthropology also focuses on nonhuman primates, which is a lot of where my interests in the field lie. Through the four subfields, anthropologists can try to learn about the past and present through different approaches. I would tell students to get involved in any way they could. Ask to get involved in research, ask about working as a teaching assistant, get involved in Anthropology Club, anything! All of those options are super fun and great ways to learn more about the subfields of anthropology and make friends.
How has your major prepared you for your future career?
I have taken the biological anthropology courses offered at WVU, which have helped me definitively decide that biological anthropology is the subfield I want to pursue. I also had the opportunity to help change the Biological Anthropology 252 class from a lecture-based class to a lab-based one. That was a really fun experience that taught me a lot about what goes into creating a class. My adviser has also been absolutely amazing with helping me to look for opportunities that will help me be more prepared for graduate school and a future career in primatology!
How have you changed since your first year at WVU?
I have grown a lot in college, academically, socially and emotionally. Each one of those areas has helped me to grow more into the person that I want to be, and I hope that I am able to continue growing in those areas for as long as possible. Just because I feel like I am more myself than I was in high school doesn't mean I feel like I am the best me I can be. It means I'm getting there.
What was your most memorable moment at WVU?
One of my most memorable moments was when I asked President Gee to help me meet his friend Jack Hanna. It was a crazy series of events that started with him bringing cookies into a class I was taking to honor the professor with an award. It ended with him getting me in touch with Jack Hanna's secretary! She helped me set up a time to go to the Columbus Zoo and meet with Jack Hanna. It was one of my favorite experiences ever!
What was the hardest (Eberly College) class that you loved? Why?
The hardest Eberly College class I have taken was Anthropology of Material Culture, which is also in my top three favorite classes in college. The class really challenged us to look at literature and objects in a different way than we ever had. I loved the opportunity to learn about everyday objects from an anthropological perspective. For example, one of the first papers we read was about the origin of the fork! How cool is that?! I also loved the final because it allowed us to investigate the history of an object we owned, so I chose an old Ben and Jerry's shirt that had been my grandfather's. I ended up interviewing Jerry himself over the phone, emailing with Ben and emailing with the CEO of the Ben and Jerry's Scoop Shop in Israel. I loved the different ways the class challenged me and the opportunities I found from those challenges along the way.
What do you want others to know about you that is not on your resume?
I am a huge Betty White fan! She is one of my top idols. I honestly don't know which would make me happy-cry more, meeting Betty White or meeting a chimpanzee (my favorite animal). She is just such a unique, inspiring person who has had one of the most interesting lives ever (in my opinion).
What makes you feel connected to WVU?
The song “Country Roads” is one of the things that makes me feel most connected to WVU. I didn't know before going to WVU that my grandma was a huge John Denver fan! I didn't get to know my grandma for very long, so every time I hear “Country Roads,” I have a feeling that makes me know I'm at the right university.
What have been your keys to success?
My biggest keys to success have been my support system through my family, friends and professors. Every time I have felt defeated or discouraged by something, they have been there to heIp me through it. I honestly can't imagine how I would have made it to my senior year without them!
Why would you recommend WVU to a sibling or friend?
I would recommend WVU because of how welcome I felt here from the second I stepped onto campus. The first time I ever visited campus, I instantly fell in love with it! I just had a feeling that I was in the right place. So many people I've met since arriving at college have proved me right over and over that this is the perfect place to get not just an education, but an education from people who genuinely care about your future.
Do you have a favorite professor or instructor here? What makes them special?
One of my favorite professors is Dr. Susanna Donaldson. She has been my professor, adviser, research mentor, Honors College EXCEL Program mentor, TA professor and Anthropology Club adviser. She is a person who genuinely cares about her students and their success. There have been countless times that I thought a class, assignment or anything was going horribly wrong, and every time she has helped me work through the problem. Especially recently with how the pandemic has changed so many plans, Dr. Donaldson has been so generous with her time in helping me to come up with alternative plans for both the summer and the fall semesters. She is truly inspiring, and I could never come close to describing how important she has been to my success at WVU.
What was your reaction when you heard you were selected as an Eberly Scholar? How has this opportunity made a difference in your life?
I was shocked. The day I found out had been a really hard day, so to see that email come in was one of the best feelings ever! It made me feel like part of me was still on campus when I hadn't been at WVU in weeks, so it was a comforting feeling. This opportunity has definitely made a difference for me through the financial support. I'm always looking for new scholarships or grants to help make my college experience result in as little debt as possible, so this was a big help! It has also helped me to see the growth I've had over this past year. I applied to be an Eberly Scholar last year and wasn't chosen, so to be an Eberly Scholar this year gave me a really happy feeling that I had grown from where I was last year.