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2020-2021 Eberly Scholars: Jordan Pugh

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.

Jordan Pugh
Hometown: Mount Carbon, West Virginia
Major: English
Minors: Communication Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies 

How has your major prepared you for your future career?

I feel a personal, moral obligation to be a troublemaker. What I mean by that is being someone who speaks truth to power. Silence is the residue of fear, and challenging those that try to contain us within a bubble of comfort is the only way to make the world a more loving place. Pursuing a major that can help me to communicate my messages more eloquently will lead me to my career of troublemaking.  

The power of beautifully written works is unparalleled, from my perspective. Writing from the heart and with gusto can break barriers, dismantle institutions and create space for new ideas. Majoring in English has required me to read the works of an abundance of phenomenal writers, which in itself has broadened my worldview and helped me to find my voice as a writer. Additionally, writing papers for a living has not only increased my word count per minute and caffeine tolerance, but it’s also shown me that the writers we are still mulling over today did not color inside the lines – they challenged political and social practices of their era and practiced great courage by speaking out against those in power for the greater good. I intend to do the same by speaking my truth and striving to make sure that my words reach those in power.

Jordan Pugh and friends

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

I believe that much of life’s purpose involves gaining as much knowledge as humanly possible, whether that be worldly, spiritual or intellectual knowledge. I have an immense love for animals, especially cats. I have two black cat rescues whose names are Barbara and Desmond. Additionally, I grew up on a 50-acre farm in southern West Virginia, which gave me a deep appreciation for the natural world. I love flowers, have tons of house plants and spend much of my free time discovering new hiking trails. I come from a large, very close-knit family. I have six nieces and nephews, three sisters and too many cousins to count. Their love and support encourage me to continue pursuing higher education when things get rocky.

Lastly, I find it relevant to share that I have struggled with severe depression and the panic disorder form of anxiety since I was 12 years old. I require full-time outpatient psychiatric care and medication to function as a normal adult. I relay this information with the understanding that college can be extremely difficult and seem nearly impossible when you are fighting your own battles in your head. I want other students to know that it is possible to achieve excellence as someone who struggles with mental illness – it just requires perseverance, self-awareness and a support system.  

What makes you feel connected to WVU?

Being in an environment where I am surrounded by fellow academics who share my love for learning has been an amazing shift from my high school experience at a small school where my graduating class consisted of 72 classmates. I can now hold intellectual conversations and debates with others who enjoy being engulfed in a sea of knowledge, and it has truly helped me to grow within myself and create new, lasting friendships.  

I also feel connected to WVU through the architecture and landscaping on campus. The historic, hand-laid stone buildings inspire a sense of nostalgia. I walk the same halls as Katherine Johnson, Jerry West and Steve Harvey – all very different characters, but nonetheless notable figures who make me proud to be a Mountaineer. In addition to the high vaulted ceilings and stone archways, the flower arrangements and historic American Sycamores surrounding Woodburn Hall bring me joy and allow me to balance both a naturalistic and established view of WVU.  

Jordan Pugh with PAWS student organization

What have been your keys to success in college so far?

I had to learn on my feet as a freshman, so having the opportunity to share my keys to success with underclassmen is my pleasure. There is no cheat sheet for college itself, and everyone’s paths are different, but some general tips that have aided in my academic success are seeking out and maintaining friendships with people that support my dreams and keep me motivated. While it is imperative to remain focused during your college career, it is also important to find healthy balance between work and play. Overworking yourself leads to burnout and slacking off undoubtedly leads to failure.

Keeping an organized and detailed planner removes unnecessary stress by helping you keep all your assignments and their due dates straight while also encouraging you to complete them on time. Also, taking the initiative to find a reliable therapist or psychologist is extremely helpful. Once you can put your pride aside and understand that speaking to a professional about your stress and personal problems can not only remove some of the burden, but also teach you new ways of coping and help you to improve and flourish, you will break through the stigma surrounding mental health.

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

I have made many valuable connections with professors throughout my time at WVU. Forming good relationships with your instructors is imperative! Making certain that your professors are able to recognize your face and see that you are striving for success will likely make them far more accommodating and helpful during times of difficulty. Earning the respect and support of instructors is necessary for academic success: recommendations, advice and intellectually rigorous conversation all arise from seeking out trusting scholars.

The WVU professor who has made an immense difference in my higher education experience is Dr. Jessica Queener. Dr. Queener's love for the continuous acquirement of knowledge inspires me and makes learning a far more rewarding experience. She is unapologetically her goofy self and does not try to form an intellectual hierarchy with her students. Her approachability and consistent availability undoubtedly aided in my success. The interactive and open discussion I experienced in her class encouraged me to strive for excellence and has deepened my appreciation of the craftsmanship  and authorship that goes into creating canonical pieces of literature.  

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 extremely shocked and unbelievably excited to receive the news that I had been selected as an Eberly Scholar. This is a great honor that has made a difference for me by encouraging me to continue applying for competitive scholarships. It will be an invaluable addition to my resume, and the scholarship will allow me the opportunity to  s t udy abroad, which has always been a dream of mine.