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2020-2021 Eberly Scholars: Lily Wright

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.

Lily Wright
Hometown: Bluefield, West Virginia
Majors: English and French
Minor: Political Science 

How did you choose your major(s)?

I chose my English major first; a quarter-life crisis and the advice of my high school English teacher prompted me to switch my major from a STEM field to English at the very last minute before I enrolled at WVU. It is the best decision I've ever made. Because of it I've devoted my last two years to the study of my passions: writing and literature. My second major, French, was chosen at the behest of a United States Foreign Ambassador during a Model UN conference commencement speech. I immediately went home and added French, and I haven't looked back since.  

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

Both of my majors teach three things that I believe are critical to a humanities education: how to write, cultural awareness and critical, independent thinking. The advice that I would give to an incoming student is the same that was given to me, which is to de-colonize your mind. Experience things that are out of your comfort zone, like challenging courses, approaching students and professors, speaking up, studying abroad and taking leadership roles in student organizations.

Lily Wright

How has your major prepared you for your future career?

My majors have made me outspoken, improved my writing and transformed my cultural literacy. I hope to become a lawyer in the future, and I believe my majors have equipped me with the tools to serve a diverse community.  

How have you changed since your first year at WVU?

Prior to my adjustment to college, I had a crippling case of imposter syndrome, being a first-generation college student and being far from home. I'm a junior now, and WVU has given me a confidence both professionally and personally. I now feel comfortable pursuing independent projects, speaking up in class and representing myself and my university as a leader.  

What is the hardest Eberly College class that you loved so far? Why?

So far, the hardest class I've loved is Professor Kirk Hazen's English 221 class. Linguistics was a completely new field for me, but I managed it with my friends in the class and Dr. Hazen's humor. I also learned a lot that has helped in my language acquisition, so shout out Dr. Hazen.

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

Something that is salient to my identity is being a first-generation college student. At the very beginning of my time at WVU, I spent many moments feeling completely and utterly lost. I owe overcoming that persistent feeling partly to a few compassionate faculty members who inspired me to know my worth.

What makes you feel connected to WVU? What have been your keys to success in college?

I feel most connected to WVU when I'm with the people that I've met and befriended. Everyone I meet – students, faculty, staff – truly embodies the Mountaineer tradition of boldness and compassion. Surrounding myself with such excellent students and reliable mentors have given me every opportunity.

Why would you recommend WVU to a sibling or friend?

WVU offers the big university vibe with a strong sense of tight-knit community and family.  

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

Dr. Nancy Caronia in the Department of English is my all-time favorite professor. Since my freshman year, she has been so supportive of me, acting as my adviser, professor, study abroad leader, recommender, researcher and friend. I jokingly refer to her as my "school mom" because I genuinely admire her not only for her work but for who she is as a human being.

What does it mean to be a Mountaineer?

Being a Mountaineer means persevering in the face of adversity and obstacles. Mountaineers have a strong conviction to their dreams and individuality and a sense of pride for their roots.

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

I can't possibly pick one thing, but a memory that stands out is my spring break study abroad trip to Spain as a sophomore. I am now unabashedly addicted to travel, and I can't wait to see where the next trip takes me!  

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

When I saw the email, I was utterly flabbergasted. In the midst of everything that's happening in the world right now, that message was nearly heaven-sent – a true honor. I self-finance my education, so receiving generous scholarships like this one ensure that I am able to remain at WVU and pursue privileges like research and study abroad. If I could email every single individual that donated to this fund, I absolutely would, and I'm sure my fellow Eberly Scholars would echo the sentiment that their contributions truly have a profound, lasting impact on our education.