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2020-2021 Eberly Scholars: Christina White

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.

Christina White
Hometown: Morgantown, West Virginia
Majors: Biology and International Studies
Minors: Spanish

How would you explain your major to a new WVU student? What advice would you give them?

I'd say that your major is a coloring page in an adult coloring book. It's got boxes to fill, but the colors and substance are all your own. I thought my degree was a good way to prepare for medical school. While that's true, I'm now aware that any degree is what you make it or which colors you use to fill the page. My double major in Biology and International Relations gave me breadth to study a vast array of topics, from cultures of Latin America to human physiology. I realized that everything's connected and taking a variety of classes in no way detracts from a central goal. Rather, you're made aware of  relationships that go unnoticed and how to connect the dots. I was told by my advisers that they've never encountered another student with my two majors, as they're so different. However, they work for my goals because I found a uniting interest in global health. Make sure whatever major(s) you choose serve you and your goals. Through a specialization, classes, clubs or extracurricular experiences, your major is a springboard to whatever destination you choose. Get creative and color your page as you see fit, and make new pages when you outgrow an old one.

Christina White and classmates with produce

What do you want others to know about you that is not on your resume?

I'm crazy about food and everything connected to it. I have a food-only Instagram page where I post recipes and highlight my bizarre culinary visions (yes, pickles belong in soup). More importantly, I'm drawn to the connections crafted over cups of herbal tea or trays of intricate desserts. People relax when enjoying a tasty meal, and when you're making a cross-cultural relationship, trying a new food is akin to stepping into an aspect of one's routine and traditions. My work as an English as a second language tutor has been boosted by the camaraderie and comfort of food, from Persian tea to veggie tamales. It's a two-way street, too, as I'm always enthusiastic to share one of my favorite dishes with someone new. They peek into my life, and I begin to know theirs. In an academic sense, my studies evolved from a broad scope of biology to a focused ambition in the realms of public health and nutrition. I found a way to improve health, reduce the chance of disease and have fun through something I loved all my life: food.

Christina White and classmates at the legislature

Do you have a favorite professor or instructor here? What makes them special?

Picking favorites is a natural tendency, and when it's hard to narrow it down, my fortune to have such outstanding professors dawns upon me. One person comes to mind who acted as more than a great instructor. She is a role model and mentor whom I hope to keep in contact with indefinitely. Dr. Christina Fattore revealed the challenges facing women in the international system and how my life and that of women around me is shaped by a subtly, sometimes overtly, gendered playing field. She taught me to be strong and outspoken yet cognizant of the innate strength of vulnerability. We had many a "real talk" in her office about my goals and worries. Every time I left, I had a smile on my face and a refreshed sense of self. I'm more confident in my capabilities and self-efficacy as a result of her influence.

Christina White and classmates at a fire department

Describe the best thing that’s happened to you at WVU.

The best thing that happened, or better said, is happening to me, is truly getting to know my state. I've lived in Morgantown since childhood, but I had no idea what the sunset in Welch looked like, how rays of orange and gold quickly envelop the mountains in humble glory. I didn't know. I knew about our opioid epidemic, but it wasn't until college that I sat in a circle of women in recovery and listened to their individual experiences. I grew up singing “Country Roads.” Now, I've driven down many a bumpy, beautiful passageway deep into the outlets in this state. At WVU, I met West Virginia for the first time, and she's pulling me closer to home. Thanks to my ventures at WVU, I want to dive into rural medicine and continue growing familiar with the people and cultures of Appalachia.

Christina White hiking in the woods with friends

What was your reaction when you heard you were selected as an Eberly Scholar? How has this opportunity made a difference in your life?

After the initial, "I can't believe this!" I felt tremendous support from my university. It's so encouraging to know that my values are shared, that those around me want me to achieve my goals. Being an Eberly Scholar is an honor, but also a call to trek onward. This opportunity has kicked me into gear. I want to maximize my time and efforts with the assistance that this opportunity provides. Like every one of us, my summer plans were diverted in unexpected haste. So, I view this award as support in the healthy adaptation of my work. Instead of traveling abroad, I'm getting international exposure by teaching English-as-a-second-language classes on Zoom to adult learners. They bring tales of their hometowns and cultures to each lesson, helping to create a sense of companionship and unity. The difference between in-person and online learning is clear, but I'm reminded by my selection as an Eberly Scholar that improvement doesn't have to cease; it only changes form.