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2022-23 Eberly Scholars: Rachel Cundey

Major: Forensic Biology
Hometown: Ashburn, Virginia

  • Rachel Cundey with her dog Cooper
  • Rachel Cundey in front of Woodburn
  • Rachel Cundey Whitewater Rafting

How did you choose your major?

I have always been passionate about science, finding the facts, and helping others. I love the idea that forensic biology is at the intersection of the things I am most passionate about. With forensic biology, I can use science and technology to help give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.

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

Forensic science is extremely challenging, yet extremely rewarding. If you work hard and set goals for yourself, you will succeed. My best advice to new forensic science majors is to not give up. To be completely honest, the first couple of years in this major are difficult. If you are passionate about forensic science, do not let these hard classes deter you from pursuing your dreams in this field. To stay motivated, I suggest thinking about all of the fun forensic science classes you will get to take as an upperclassmen. Once you get to the fun forensic classes, you made it. The hardest part is behind you and you can appreciate all the work it took to get to that point.

How has your major prepared you for your future career?

All of the coursework I have taken has made me a very well-rounded candidate for my future career as a Forensic DNA Analyst. This major not only focuses on what goes on inside the laboratory, but it also emphasizes what occurs on the outside. It is important to understand how the evidence was collected and processed so that, as a DNA Analyst, you have an understanding of the next steps that are needed to be taken. In addition, I have loved taking advantage of the wide variety of forensic science electives to further expand my knowledge in this field.

What was your most memorable moment at WVU?

My most memorable moment was going on the Adventure WV First-Year trip. I had so much fun hiking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting, to name just a few of the activities we did. I met so many amazing people and it makes me so happy to still call these people my best friends.

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

My hardest, but favorite class was my Forensic Biology Laboratory. Throughout the entire laboratory, I had to be extremely careful with handling my DNA samples to limit any contamination. I had to treat the sample as if it were from a crime scene, which is what made this class so difficult. Everything needed to be documented and it was extremely important to pay attention to every single detail. The entire laboratory mimicked what a DNA analyst would do in an actual laboratory setting. I had to extract the DNA from my sample, determine how much DNA was present, amplify the DNA, generate an electropherogram, and then analyze the results and compile them into a concise final report. I loved this laboratory because it provided practical hands-on experiences that I can use as a foundation for my future career.

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

I have a chocolate lab named Cooper that I absolutely adore. Cooper is my adventure buddy and he loves going for rides in the car. I love taking Cooper on hikes and he loves swimming in the water and finding sticks bigger than him! He just recently became a certified therapy dog, so not only does he bring joy to my family, but also to others in our community. Cooper is my four-legged best friend and I can’t imagine the last nine years without him.

What does it mean to be a Mountaineer?

Being a Mountaineer means that even in the toughest of times, we do not give up. We encourage each other to keep going and to keep climbing so that we can pursue our dreams, no matter what they are. Being a Mountaineer means supporting and respecting each other despite our differences. We will always be there for one another to lend a helping hand… once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.

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 elated to find out I was an Eberly Scholar. It is a very special honor to be recognized for all the hard work I have put in during my time here at WVU. There are so many talented and brilliant people in the Eberly College and I was so surprised that I was one of them! This opportunity has made a difference in my life because it shows that the countless hours I have put into studying have paid off and that there are people out there who do believe in me. Being recognized as an Eberly Scholar shows me that I am in fact on the right path and this will continue to motivate me every day.

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.