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2020-2021 Eberly Scholars: Tristan Sanders

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.

Tristan Sanders
Hometown: Morgantown, West Virginia
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Physics 

How did you choose your major(s)?

I loved my Advanced Placement biology class in high school but didn’t want to only focus on biology in college, so biochemistry seemed like a challenge that would pique my interest.

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

Biochemistry is a challenging yet extremely rewarding field of study if you dedicate yourself to the work. You will come out of undergrad with a pretty thorough understanding of molecular biology and the mechanisms that allow life to carry on the way it does. It is a great major to prepare you for medical school or graduate school.  

Tristan Sanders

How has your major prepared you for your future career?

It has taught me to train my intuition and question more things. Since the field is rapidly evolving, you can’t expect everything you are taught to be an absolute fact. Better explanations for phenomena come along often.  

How have you changed since your first year at WVU?

I don’t fear challenges as much. I was a nervous wreck going into chemistry, biology and calculus classes my first semester. After realizing how much I learned and grew mentally after making it through some of the more challenging classes, I looked forward to them more. I even declared a physics minor to diversify my course load and add some challenges from a different field of study.  

What was your most memorable moment at WVU?

Meeting my research mentors during a work study job. I have learned so much about the process and beauty of research that it inspired me to pursue a career in it. We are currently working on evaluating the effects of different colored LEDs on the nutrition content of kale with hopes of being able to grow more nutrient-dense crops to combat cancer and heart disease.  

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

Physics 314. We went through an entire 600-page textbook about all kinds of different discoveries in the 20th century. It was very fascinating and thought-provoking learning about relativity, quantum mechanics and all kinds of other complex ideas. It was also by far the hardest I’ve ever had to work to understand the material, so it earned my respect.  

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

I’m a first-generation college student, and I don’t plan on finishing school until I receive my PhD.  

What makes you feel connected to WVU?

The people at WVU have amazing energy, and I feel a sense of community when I run into someone from WVU outside of Morgantown.  

Why would you recommend WVU to a sibling or friend?

There is such a diverse variety of majors and minors at WVU to choose from. Most of the professors I have had are passionate about what they teach, so it makes for interesting courses.

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

Dr. Moon has gotten to know me personally and have inspired me to hold myself to a level above the rest of my peers. For me, that was not only maintaining a high GPA but also pushing me to conduct experiments and write papers for publication like a graduate student. He made me realize I have a talent that others never acknowledged.  

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

I would say WVU is the best thing that’s happened to me. Growing up in poverty gave me few choices when it came to colleges. Luckily WVU does a great job at helping in-state students afford a higher education with countless opportunities. If it wasn’t for WVU, I’m not sure where I’d be now. I’ve enjoyed finding my passion and becoming a huge science nerd since starting college.  

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 very excited since this is the most prestigious scholarship I have received. Being an Eberly Scholar has boosted my confidence, and it will also allow me to put more time into research next year rather than working after classes. This extra time will help me attempt publication in a scientific journal.