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2022-23 Eberly Scholars: Wren King

Major: Anthropology, Women’s and Gender Studies, Geography
Minor: Native American Studies
Hometown: Morgantown, WV

  • Wren King, Profile Photo
  • Wren King at WVU Game
  • Wren King with friends

How did you choose your major?

I was admitted as a history major and took HIST 179 through high school access my senior year of high school. I enjoyed the class, but often lamented to my partner at the time about how I wish I could focus on studying the current human condition. I hadn’t ever heard of anthropology, but he had been taking SOCA 105 that semester and he gave me his notes, commenting on how eerily similar my ideas were to the concepts he was discussing in his class. The next semester, I was taking SOCA 105, and I changed my major three days before NSO.

I was talked into a WGST major by Kriistina Riivald while taking Honors Introduction to Women’s and Gender studies my first semester on campus. I knew that I wanted to double major at least, as the anthropology major is incredibly flexible. I was hesitant, as I really didn’t know how women’s and gender studies could be applicable to my future career goals. However, through taking the class, developing a research project on campus violence, and eventually winning the Center for Women’s Studies showcase at the end of the semester, it became incredibly clear to me that the multidisciplinary nature of the field would be a fantastic addition to my path.

I was brought into geography by Dr. Cynthia Gorman through her Women in International Development class. It was taught during the spring 2020 semester, so it was a wild time in the world in general, but despite that, Dr. Gorman was able to captivate me with an entirely new world of study which I was completely unaware of. That semester really expanded my horizons in terms of my future, and inspired me to truly think about what I wanted to do with my future, and geography had exactly the space for me to explore more of the possibilities. I have been able to take classes in a massive range of social studies fields and concentrations that have wildly diversified the ways in which I view the world, the methods in which to interact with it, and how I see myself going forward with my career.

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

The advice I give to many incoming freshmen I speak to is to be flexible. I came into college with an incredibly structured idea of what it would look like, how it had to be, and what I would get out of it. All of my plans got thrown out the window, and I am incredibly happy for it. My flexibility and willingness to learn about new fields and methodologies brought me to where I am today, which is lightyears away from what I knew two years ago. Keep an open mind and be curious about what you’re learning.

How has your major prepared you for your future career?

The combination of my three majors (and minor) will allow me a fantastic springboard into my interdisciplinary career I plan to have in the future. I don’t plan to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation, I will be pursuing a couple of master’s degrees and a PhD before hopefully continuing to do advocacy research at a higher education institution. Through my majors and extracurricular activities, I was able to foster an interest in critical medical anthropology, so I hope to be doing work to create a more equitable healthcare system on an international scale.

How have you changed since your first year at WVU?

I have completely changed since my first year at WVU, in large part because much of my college career has been during the pandemic and that did not align with my expectations at all. I came to the university with very clear ideas of what the next four years would look like, and then the rug got pulled out from underneath all of us. I had to completely reconceptualize what life would look like for me, and college kept going. I’m grateful that I was positioned where I was when the pandemic started, because I have been able to surround myself with a community of people at this university who believe in me and my abilities. I am a much more confident person than I was two years ago, with a much more clear path of what is ahead, and the tenacity and resilience to achieve my dreams.

What was the hardest (Eberly College) class that you loved? Why?

I can’t say it was the hardest, but the classes that have made me wrestle the most with my own preconceived notions have to have been Dr. Daniel Renfrew’s Social Movements and Environmental Anthropology courses. As 400 level courses, they’re a lot of work, as we read several books throughout the semester and do a lot of conceptual heavy lifting, but I feel that I have been able to develop so much as an individual throughout these classes. The ways in which Dr. Renfrew is able to seamlessly tie in current events, West Virginian examples, and ground it in anthropological practice is so invigorating, and I truly couldn’t pick my favorite between the two.

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

I will admit, it’s on my resume but a lot smaller than I’d like it to be, but I am a foster through Appalachian Peace Paws Rescue, and I also am a member of the application review board. I have worked with them from August of 2020 with my roommate Alaina Eavenson, and it has been some of the most rewarding work I have ever done in my entire life. I was personally present and assisted with the birth of four beautiful kittens in my own house, raised several litters of bottle babies, rehabilitated injured feral cats, trapped dozens of cats for our TNR program, and adopted dozens of cats to their forever homes. I dedicate much of my house and sanity to raising and housing these cats and I wouldn’t give it up for the world because it has been so rewarding. I have seen kittens come from the brink of death back to living full, healthy, rambunctious lives under my roof, and that joy is irreplaceable. Working with rescue is hard, and not without its losses and its angry, upset people, but it truly is one of the greatest ways I contribute to the world, and my CV just doesn’t cover the scope of it

What makes you feel connected to WVU?

Working with the Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review and being a really active part of the research community here at WVU has been my greatest source of connection. As an R1 research institution, WVU’s research community is incredibly vast, and being managing editor of the journal means that I get to reach out to that amazing community and ask them what they’re up to. We accept all kinds of research papers, from philosophy to immunology, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. Teagan Kuzniar – the Editor in Chief -- and I, with the help of our amazing faculty advisor Kevin Walden, have able to grow the journal so much over the past two years, and I’m so excited to see how it grows in the future. 

What have been your keys to success?

I have always found the most success in being bold and taking the first steps yourself. A lot of the positions that I earned have been because I put in the work to find them. I know it’s kind of lame, but a good place to find opportunities is in the emails that the university sends out every week, like in eNews or weekly newsletters. I’ve also found that sending emails is always going to get you more places than not sending an email at all. Many of my long-term volunteering positions began with me sending a cold email to an organization’s main contact. It’s very intimidating, especially as a younger student, but having a professional email format and a nice looking signature will get you into a lot of places.

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

I was thrilled to have received the distinction! It really showed to me that my work is being recognized by my college. It is a great honor, and it truly is exciting. With this support from the scholarship, I will more easily be able to study abroad in the spring.

About Eberly Scholars

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.