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Students from across Eberly have been named Outstanding Seniors, Outstanding GTAs and Eberly Scholars

Every year, students from across Eberly College are selected as Outstanding Seniors and Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants. Eberly Scholars are also chosen annually for a monetary award to help offset the cost of their education as they work to achieve their academic goals. Read about all three groups below.

2024 Outstanding Seniors

The following students completed degree requirements to graduate in December 2023 or will complete requirements in May 2024.  They have been named by faculty in their academic programs as Eberly College Outstanding Seniors for the 2023-24 academic year.2024 outstanding seniors

Outstanding Senior in Anthropology

Bethanny Prascik, of Fairmont, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and dance. Her career trajectory was made clear when she conducted research on a Native American burial mound in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Outside of her studies, she enjoys painting and dance. Due to spending many evenings at dance rehearsals in E. Moore Hall, it became one of her favorite spots on campus. Her bucket list includes seeing all 7 wonders of the world and taking a cooking class in Italy.

Outstanding Senior in Biochemistry
Taylor Smith, of Tornado, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. While at WVU, Taylor served as an undergraduate teaching assistant, the Vice President of Membership for the student group CHAARG—Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls—and was a member of the Horticulture, Biochemistry, and Outdoor Adventure clubs. Taylor loves to hike, kayak and paddleboard, and her bucket list includes learning how to surf.

Outstanding Senior in Biology

Natalie Wonsettler, of Morgantown, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in biology. Her involvement with Honors EXCEL allowed her to work on a community art project that will amplify the voices of foster youth in West Virginia. She also worked as a writing consultant for the Eberly Writing Studio in Colson Hall, where she has formed lasting friendships. Her bucket list includes taking a ride in a hot air balloon, seeing the northern lights, and writing a book.

Outstanding Senior in Chemistry
Kennedy Goodwin, of Raleigh, North Carolina, is earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She plans to attend graduate school at the University of Virginia and work in the pharmaceutical field upon graduation. In addition to excelling in the classroom, Kennedy is a certified recreational SCUBA diver who loves to travel. When reflecting on her time at WVU, Kennedy said her most memorable moment was the 2023 Backyard Brawl win and getting to sing Country Roads in a packed stadium surrounded by her best friends.

Outstanding Senior in Chinese Studies
Sarah Burton, of East Barnet, North London, is earning a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Studies. Upon graduating, Sarah will pursue her master’s degree in Chinese Literature at National Sun Yat-Sen. Her ultimate goal is to become an English teacher in Taiwan. In addition to learning Chinese, Sarah taught herself Korean and began tutoring high school and college students. She also was the recipient of the prestigious Benjamin A. Gillman Scholarship, on the President’s List from spring 2021 to spring 2024, and served as the Treasurer for the Chinese Club. Sarah’s hobbies include analog and digital photography.

Outstanding Senior in Communications
Nathaniel Beer, of Buckhannon, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor's degree in communications. When he is not studying in the Milano Reading Room—his favorite spot on campus—he loves to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates. Nathaniel is a major music fan and avid record collector. One of his bucket list items is to travel outside the United States. He most wants to visit Spain, Japan, and Germany.

Outstanding Senior in Criminology
Shelby Nichole Floyd, of Maidsville, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in criminology. In recent years Shelby developed a passion for addressing issues surrounding addiction and has the goal of becoming a public health policy analyst with a focus on opiate addiction. She reflects that this experience helped her gain self-confidence as a student and woman, as well as friends from all across the world. In addition to continuing her studies, she has dreams of writing a science fiction novel and creating an indie game.

Outstanding Senior in English
Colleen Benison, of Morgantown, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in English and women’s and gender studies. One of her most memorable experiences was presenting about her internship with the WVU Libraries’ Rare Book Room— a poster presentation that tied for “Top Poster.” A piece of advice that continues to stick with her is some wise words from her mother, who instilled in Colleen the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity. While some may not pan out as expected, there will be some that turn out better than you could have ever imagined.

Outstanding Senior in Environmental Geoscience
Elyssa Allen, of North Canton, Ohio, is earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental geoscience and music. With her degree, she wants to pursue a government job in geoscience and environmental resource management. During her undergraduate studies she earned an internship with the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming where she learned several new skills in environmental protection. When she is not focusing on her own studies, she is teaching music and geoscience to kids—she plays the viola, violin, and trombone and is also a music major.

Outstanding Senior in Forensic Biology
Emma Hornbeck, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in forensic biology. After graduation, she hopes to get a job working in a forensic laboratory. However, because West Virginia holds a special place in her heart, she would love the opportunity to work in the West Virginia State Police Forensic Lab in the future. Later in her career, she plans to return to academia to teach. In that time, she also wants to visit Liverpool, England, restore an old Volkswagen to travel across the USA, and learn how to sew.

Outstanding Senior in Forensic Chemistry
Liliana Barbosa, of Fulshear, Texas, is earning a bachelor’s degree in forensic chemistry. Liliana performed with the Pride of West Virginia Mountaineer Marching Band. She can play five different instruments and has enjoyed participating in the WVU marching and symphonic bands, Cru worship band, and the CMA church orchestra. A piece of advice from her dad that has helped her through her undergraduate studies is to always do a bit more than what’s asked of her. She reflects that this advice is particularly meaningful to her because of how much she looks up to her dad.

Outstanding Senior in Forensic Examiner
Hannah Grace Sullivan, of Huntington, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in forensic examiner. In addition to her accomplishments in the classroom, Hannah has hiked a dormant volcano, been indoor skydiving, and was on her high school’s championship volleyball team. One of her achievements she is most proud of is when she traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii for the 235th American Astronomical Society Conference—she presented her astronomy research project. 

Outstanding Senior in Geography
Gabrielle Frazier, of Gerrardstown, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in geography and English. When reflecting on her time at WVU, she says one of her fondest memories is when she stood in the shape of the state and sang Country Roads alongside her fellow freshmen. She says this moment was the first time she got to be on campus and feel like a part of the university. Outside of school she has ambitions to make a short film or documentary, travel to every continent, and go storm chasing.

Outstanding Senior in Geology
Matthew Ellis, of Bridgeport, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in geology. His plans after graduation include continuing his current geologist position with Peabody Energy at the Centurion Mine in Queensland, Australia. Matthew says one of his most memorable experiences was participating in the Geology Field Camp in Wyoming. In 2023, he was part of a team who won their eighth consecutive first place title in the SME Eastern Collegiate Mine Rescue Organization Coal national competition. He loves hiking, climbing, and caving in his spare time and hopes to hike the Tongariro Northern Circuit in New Zealand.

Outstanding Senior in German Studies
Garrett Ham, of Morgantown, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in German studies and history. While at WVU he’s been an active member of the German Club student organization and served as Treasurer and Vice President. During his studies, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Fulda, Germany. Garrett likes to spend his free time hiking and being in nature, particularly in the woods and mountains. His adventurous side shines through in one of his long-term goals: make a sailing voyage.

Outstanding Senior in History
Aidan Connors, of Paxton, Massachusetts, is earning a bachelor's degree in history. He is also a double major in Philosophy.While at WVU he served as an Eberly College Student Ambassador and editor of the Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review. Two pieces of advice that added immeasurable value to his academic and professional careers was to never be afraid to ask questions and to find a mentor. One of Aidan’s lifelong passions is skiing. He says that skiing from a young age helped instill in him a good work ethic and competitive nature.

Outstanding Senior in Integrated Studies
Alexander Gilliland, of Pennsboro, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies. During his undergraduate studies, he also served as Operations Director for a multi-unit Subway franchise where he oversaw five locations across West Virginia and Ohio. He is particularly proud of this accomplishment because it allowed him to financially afford to finish his degree. Outside of school he enjoys skydiving and hopes to get certified to skydive solo.

Outstanding Senior in Interdisciplinary Studies
Gabrielle Xie, of McLean, Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, which consists of three minors in psychology, addiction studies, and biology—she is also a double major in French. A memory that will always stick with Gabrielle happened at the last home football game of the year. She reflects that singing Country Roads in Mylan Puskar Stadium, for the final time as an undergraduate student, alongside her friends was equally magical and sad. One of her non-academic passions is photography.

Outstanding Senior in Leadership Studies
Zackery Slie, of New Martinsville, West Virginia, is earning a minor in leadership studies and a bachelor’s degree in political science. He plans to attend WVU School of Law upon graduation. One of his hobbies is working on and driving antique vehicles. His very first car was a 1987 Chevrolet El Camino that he and his father worked together to restore. Zackery would like to drive the entire Old Route 66 in one of these antique vehicles. He also hopes to trek a portion of the Appalachian Trail and purchase and drive a motorcycle.

Outstanding Senior in Mathematics
Owen Gerdes, of Morgantown, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemical engineering. While at WVU he saw a presentation from Math Magician Arthur Benjamin at the 2022 Math Field Day and considers this a highlight of his time during his undergraduate studies. Outside of school, he is most proud of his work as financial secretary at his church, where he manages giving records and tax notifications. Two of his ‘bucket list’ items are walking the Lord of the Rings trail in New Zealand and bungee jumping at Bridge Day.

Outstanding Senior in Multidisciplinary Studies
Kaylee Schraf, of Morgantown, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies consisting of minors in sociology, women’s and gender studies, strategic social media, and communication studies. Her future career plans are not set in stone, but she is very interested in social media marketing and human resources. The importance of taking care of your mental health has stuck with Kaylee throughout her undergraduate experience. In her free time, she loves to paint. Kaylee also hopes to visit Europe sometime soon.  

Outstanding Senior in Native American Studies
Riley Klug, of New Martinsville, West Virginia, is earning a minor in Native American Studies and dual bachelor’s degree in art history and anthropology. Recently, Riley completed her first solo trip abroad. She visited Chile where she completed research for one of her class papers. Her time at WVU has also been dedicated to The Rack, which is somewhere students in need can go to get free food, snacks, and beverages.  A lesson that she’s learned during her undergraduate studies is to know your limits. She reflects that it truly pays to know what you can and cannot do and when to stop so you don’t get burnt out.

Outstanding Senior in Neuroscience
Hannah Smart, of Lewisburg, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. Hannah is particularly proud of the summer internship she completed at the WVU Cancer Institute, where she was able to work alongside Dr. Elena Pugacheva, an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. One of her favorite spots on campus to study and meet friends is the Chemistry Learning Center. Hannah has also volunteered at the WVU Children’s Hospital Pediatric Unit and been a Clinical Associate on a neuro stepdown unit at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Outstanding Senior in Philosophy
Olivia Dowler, of Weirton, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Spanish, and history. Olivia is an eighth-generation West Virginian and first-generation college student. One of the achievements she is most proud of is receiving a WVU Center for Community Engagement’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award for excellence in community engagement. A particularly memorable moment in her collegiate career was when she was named a Mountaineer of Distinction while on the Milan Puskar football field with her parents.

Outstanding Senior in Physics
Justin Riggs, of Wheeling, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in physics. While at WVU he worked in the Summit residence hall. He values this experience because it presented him with the opportunity to assist and guide students at the beginning of their college careers. Out of the classroom he enjoys long distance running—he is currently training for the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon and the Maryland Half-Marathon— and has dream of training for and running a 100-mile race.

Outstanding Senior in Political Science and International Studies
Madison Santmyer, of Purcellville, Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies. She plans to attend law school after graduation and study international law. In addition to being a dual major and member of the Honors College, Madison was elected Student Body President. She is especially proud of this achievement because she served during a challenging time at WVU. She also founded and served as President of the Women in Politics and Government student organization.

Outstanding Senior in Psychology
Gabriella Johnson, of Morgantown, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is passionate about advocating for better quality services and destigmatized care in Appalachia and other rural communities. While in school, she worked as the Executive Assistant for the West Virginia Junior College, was a Teaching Assistant for COMM 308, and was active in the Psychology Club. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, and even hopes to open an Etsy shop or crochet business one day. Dr. Elizabeth Levelle, a Teaching Associate Professor in Psychology, praises Gabbi for going “above and beyond” in all she does.

Outstanding Senior Regents Bachelor of Arts
Nikki Price, of Cheat Lake, West Virginia, is earning a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree. Being an online learner, Nikki’s favorite spot on campus isn’t a classroom or library, but the football stadium—she goes to all the WVU football games. In addition to excelling in the classroom, Nikki simultaneously worked full-time as a mortgage lender, managed six rental properties, and fulfilled her duties as a single mom to two kids.

Outstanding Senior in Russian Studies
Nya Feinstein, of Lancaster, Ohio, is earning a bachelor’s degree in Russian studies, international studies, and data science. She hopes to pursue a PhD that incorporates all three of her undergraduate majors—aerospace and mechanical engineering, Russian, and French. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and reading poetry. A piece of advice that continues to resonate with her is to be true to yourself, do what you love, and follow your own path.

Outstanding Senior in Social Studies
Tyler Robinson, of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, is earning a bachelor’s degree in social studies secondary education. He hopes to become a social studies teacher and help students grow both academically and as people. During his undergraduate studies he worked as a student teacher. He notes he was particularly proud of the fun, dynamic lessons he created. Outside of the classroom, Tyler enjoys traveling and hopes to see more of the United States and travel overseas to Europe.

Outstanding Senior in Social Work
Lily Bates, of northern Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in social work. An accomplishment she is proud of is becoming the President of the Undergraduate Social Work Organization. Serving in this role taught her about being a social worker and a leader. To unwind, Lily likes to do hot yoga and tries to get in as many classes as she can. A piece of advice she has learned and wants to share with others is to never be afraid to ask for help or advocate for yourself—the worst answer you could get is ‘no.’

Outstanding Senior in Sociology
Logan Raber, of Morgantown, WV, is earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology and geography. He is a first-generation student, served as an Eberly College Student Ambassador, and coached high school football while pursuing his undergraduate studies. Logan also enjoys learning about family and regional history, especially to connect with the area he grew up in. He reflects that what made it so special was seeing the stadium packed with people coming together to root for a team they truly believed in.

Outstanding Senior in Spanish
Garrett Cessna, of Weirton, West Virginia, is earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and biology. He was named a Fulbright Scholarship semifinalist and, if he is selected, he will spend the upcoming academic year working as an English Teaching Assistant in the Río de la Plata region of Uruguay. His other aspiration is to attend graduate school for a master's degree in Latin American Studies. While in undergrad, Garrett taught Zumba classes at the Student Rec Center, worked for the WVU Art Museum, and served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for FCLT 380.

Outstanding Senior in Women’s and Gender Studies
Ingrid Fenniman, of Ocean Township, New Jersey, is earning a bachelor’s degree in women’s and gender studies and English. She has dreams of becoming a fiction author and children’s book writer. When reflecting on her time at WVU, she fondly remembers meeting her best friend in their creative writing class. Something Ingrid feels is important for people to remember is “it is never too late in life to learn new skills, pick up hobbies, or go back to school.”

2024 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants

2024 outstanding GTAs

Each year, academic programs are also asked to name an Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant. These students have earned financial support for their graduate educations by qualifying for appointment as Graduate Teaching Assistants. 

As GTA’s, they work closely with faculty in a variety of instructional assignments. Their fresh perspectives and dedication to their departments contributes much to the College’s mission. 

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Biology
Emel Kangi, of Istanbul, Turkey, is earning a Ph.D. in biology. Her scholarly focus has been on temperate forest soils and how forests recover after long-term environmental impacts have been removed. While pursuing her doctorate degree, she taught sections of the Plant Physiology course and the biology 321 capstone course, as well as attended her very first large professional conference. Although she isn’t certain what her ideal job will look like, she knows she wants to have mentorship responsibilities. She notes that “very few things feel as rewarding to me as when I mentor new interns in the lab or teach undergraduates.” Outside the classroom, Emel and her husband love hosting elaborate get togethers for their friends, including for New Year’s Eve and Eurovision finals.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Chemistry
Matheus Belchior, of Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, is earning a Ph.D. in chemistry. During his time at WVU, he has researched how we can use machine learning techniques to develop novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. While his ultimate research goal is to identify promising drug candidates that can be used as effective treatments for these diseases, his dream job is to work as a chemistry professor.  Reflecting on his time as a doctoral student, he thinks fondly of the support and mentorship provided by the faculty of the Chemistry Department, as well as the meaningful companionships with his fellow international graduate students, Sadia and Kuda. In challenging times and moments of uncertainty, Matheus has found himself thinking of the WVU football team’s motto: Trust the Climb. This phrase has stuck with him and motivated him to persevere and stay focused.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Communication Studies
Samantha Leggett-Bradley, of Fayetteville, Pennsylvania, is earning a Ph.D. in communication studies. Her research interests center around intergroup and interpersonal communication, specifically within the context of LGBTQ+ individuals, their identity formation in Christian spaces, and disclosure strategies with loved ones. This year Samantha has taught two communications courses: Communication in Contemporary Society and Nonverbal Communication. A dream job for Samantha would be a leadership education and farming position working with youth and young adults. A hobby of Samantha and her wife’s is fishing, and they’ve found no shortage of great fishing spots around Morgantown. A piece of advice that has stuck with Samantha throughout her graduate education came from her academic advisor, Dr. Christy Kunkle: “Communication is the one realm of humanity that everyone has the power to change.”

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in English
Qazi Arka Rahman, of Dhaka, Bangladesh, is earning a Ph.D. in English. His research focuses on the nexus of South Asian literary and postcolonial studies, as well as digital humanities. Qazi hopes to work in a position that will allow him to pursue his interests in knowledge production and emerging technologies. This academic year, he taught two sections of English 102. When reflecting on his time at WVU and in West Virginia, he says he will miss “this wild and wonderful state” that he has come to “truly love.” One of his nonacademic sources of pride and joy is the friendships he made during his graduate studies, especially being an international student. His advice to others is to be kind to yourself and seek the counsel of others, especially in phases of overwhelming hours and challenging days.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Forensic and Investigative Sciences
Baillie Poulton, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, is earning a Ph.D. in forensic and investigative science. Her research interests focus on shooting reconstruction, which has her looking into the effective reconstruction methods that can help examiners with more objective methods. She hopes to work in a forensic laboratory as a firearm and toolmarks examiner and would like to eventually teach forensic classes at the college level. Baillie has taught seven different courses while pursuing her graduate degree. She is a lover of the arts and enjoys taking photos, drawing, and dancing in her free time. In fact, one of her biggest nonacademic accomplishments is being on a dance team that won multiple awards at both national and regional competitions.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Geography
Kaitlin Stewart, of Lewisville, Texas, is earning a Ph.D. in Geography. Her primary research interest is in understanding how communities play a part in the integration of refugees in non-traditional resettlement locations, like Morgantown. During this academic year she taught a course on “Just Sustainable Development” and “Digital Earth Labs.” She has a passion for teaching college students, so she hopes to pursue a career in academia. Department Chair, Dr. Brent McCusker, reflects that Kaitlin “has shown great enthusiasm for teaching and worked hard to develop a strong relationship with her students.” Moving to Morgantown meant Kaitlin lived around mountains for the first time, and she notes that one of the things she will miss after graduation is the beautiful landscape. When she is not in the classroom, she enjoys fiber arts like quilting, crocheting, and wool felting.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Geology
Maya Yamei Bradford, of Atlanta, Georgia, is earning a Ph.D. in geology. In her research, she interprets 250-million-year-old lake and desert environments from the ancient supercontinent of Pangea. She uses gypsum-rich sedimentary rocks as a guide in the process. This academic year Maya has taught three courses: Geology Field Camp, Structural Geology, and Sedimentology/Stratigraphy. Her career goal is to be a professor at a liberal arts college, preferably in the Rocky Mountain West, and continue research on ancient gypsum-precipitating environments. Something she is particularly proud of is getting sober two and a half years ago from drugs and alcohol and remaining sober ever since. When thinking about what she will miss most after graduation, she notes she will miss her academic advisor and mentor, Dr. Kathy Benison.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in History
Kristen Bailey, of Weston, West Virginia, is earning a Ph.D. in history. Her research centers on the intersection of capitalism and politics during the West Virginia statehood process. During her graduate studies she has worked on several public history projects, including the Timber/Timbre exhibit that explored the history of timbering and music in the Allegheny Highlands and Greenbrier River Valley. She hopes to continue in academia by teaching 19th century history and public history at the collegiate level. For the 2023-2024 academic year, Kristen taught classes on The Making of Modern America: 1865-present, Growth of the American Nation to 1865, Practicing History, and Introduction to Public History. To unwind, Kristen enjoys cooking and gardening.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Mathematics
Brian McCourt Laverty, of Brea, California, is earning a Ph.D. in mathematics. His primary research interest is in commutative algebra, with a focus on commutative homological algebra over local rings. In fall 2023 Brian taught a course on quantitative skills and this semester he is teaching a corequisite course to Algebra with Applications. He would ultimately like to be a professor in mathematics and teach higher-level courses in abstract algebra. The Interim Chair of the Math Department notes that Brian “has a special talent for working with students.” One of his long-time hobbies is rock climbing, which he still does today. When thinking about what he will miss most about his time at WVU, he says he will miss his fellow graduate students in the Math Department.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Physics
Bobby Eissele, of Eldersburg, Maryland, is earning a Ph.D. in physics. He is interested in modeling topological devices to accurately describe the effects of disorder on their emergent properties, like Majorana modes that could be used to create better qubits for quantum computing. Bobby was responsible for teaching the Introductory Physics 2 course, and his dream job is to become a professor and “teach the generations that will follow” him. In his spare time, Bobby has been working on completing the Mensa Puzzle Calendar, which has him doing one puzzle a day. Thinking about his time at WVU makes him realize just how much he will miss the people he’s met in the Physics Department, from fellow graduate students, to faculty, to staff.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Political Science
Christiana Bugri, of Tamale, Ghana, is earning a Ph.D. in political science. Her research explores the political dynamics of democracies in Africa and how these dynamics impact the nature of public policies. She assesses how governments respond to policy signals and how unique political features in these contexts affect governments’ attention to problems and policymaking generally. During the 2023-2024 academic year, Christiana taught an introductory public administration course, and hopes to get a job as a college professor in the future. She is particularly proud of being able to balance the demands of graduate school with the responsibilities of being a parent—watching her kids grow brings her immense joy and fulfillment. When she has free time, she loves to read fiction books, cook, and exercise.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Psychology
Firdavs Khaydarov, of Qurghonteppa, Tajikistan, is earning a Ph.D. in psychology. He has two distinct lines of research. The first focuses on scrutinizing the impact of various parameters of a brief feedback imposed during a delay period, while the other focuses on the influence of different environmental variables on cooperation. He hopes to secure an academic position that will allow him to teach and continue investigating how the environment influences behavior. During the fall 2023 semester, he served as a lab instructor for two sections of the Research Method & Analysis psychology course. In the spring 2024 term, he gained experience as an online instructor by teaching Critical Thinking in Psychology. Firdavs has cultivated various hobbies, including writing poetry, watching horror films, and drawing. He also has a passion for learning languages. He currently knows Tajik, English, Russian, and Turkish, and is working on his Spanish.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in Women’s and Gender Studies
Lacey Bonar Hull, of Moundsville, West Virginia, is earning a Ph.D. in history. Her research focuses on uncovering the experiences of women in the Middle Ages. She is completing her dissertation, which centers on gender and cultural history in medieval Europe. Lacey is extremely passionate about public history and hopes to continue sharing her love of the Middle Ages with a wider audience through a virtual course she's developed. While completing her studies she has taught an introductory course to women’s and gender studies, as well as Feminist Theory. Her proudest accomplishment, however, is her wonderful three-year-old daughter. Although raising a child while earning a Ph.D. during a global pandemic has been challenging, she also notes is has been the most rewarding experience she can imagine. A piece of advice that has helped her balance these responsibilities came from the late Dr. Katherin Aaslestad: make sure you don’t lose sight of a good work/life balance and be sure to always take the time to appreciate the present.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
Osama Al Tani, of Irbid, Jordan is earning a master’s in linguistics and a master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Their research focuses on the intersection between linguistics, education, and cross-cultural communication. He is deeply interested in exploring ways of applying structural linguistic knowledge to better inform the teaching process. In addition to teaching an introductory linguistics course in the fall of 2023, he has taught beginner-level grammar in the Intensive English Program at the English Language Learning Institute. His ultimate goal is to become an educator, researcher, and content developer.  Outside of his professional and academic pursuits, he loves to travel. Exploring different cultural landscapes has always been a source of inspiration for him. He notes that what he will miss most from his graduate studies is the “vibrant academic community and substantial support” he’s received from faculty members and peers.

2024 Eberly Scholars

2024 Eberly Scholars
In association with the ongoing generosity of the Eberly Family Foundation, of Uniontown, P.A., the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board established the Eberly Scholars Program in 1988. 

Each year, students majoring in the arts and sciences are designated as Eberly Scholars and provided with scholarship support in recognition of their outstanding academic achievements. 

This award is the Eberly College’s most prestigious scholarship honor for undergraduates. The names of the Eberly Scholars are added each year to plaques on the first floor of Woodburn Hall. 

Julianna Baibos is earning her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science. During her undergraduate studies she completed the First-Year Leadership Academy, received the WVU President’s List distinction from spring 2021 to spring 2023, and served as an Honors College Mentor. In addition to her academic achievements, she has been the WVU Women’s Ice Hockey Team Captain since August of 2022, will complete the Project 168 program and join the 168 Society, and held an internship at the Department of Justice since 2022. One of the experiences that had a lasting impression on Julianna was studying abroad in Strasbourg, France, where she learned about comparative law and politics. After graduation, she plans to work for the federal government in a position that allows her to serve the public while utilizing the skills and knowledge she developed as an undergrad.

Hayley Bockius is earning a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, with minors in medical humanities and health studies. She is the current Managing Editor for the Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review, has over 500 hours of research experience, and currently holds the position of Volunteer Chair for the Biochemistry Club. After graduation, Hayley plans to attend medical school with the hope of becoming a retina specialist. She maintained the President’s List distinction every semester of college and received the Scholarship of Distinction Level 1 as an incoming freshman. Reflecting on her time at WVU, she is grateful for the incredible support from all her professors, advisors, and mentors. She says that the strong network of support she has built here at WVU will be what she misses the most.

Suraya Boggs is earning bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Anthropology with a minor in law and legal studies. She plans to become a lawyer with a focus on immigration so that she can aid people like her mother. Eventually, she wants to move onto human rights and nonprofit organizations, like the Southern Poverty Law Center. While pursuing an undergraduate degree, Suraya has engaged in volunteer opportunities at the Morgantown Stray and Feral Cats Inc., Appalachian Prison Book Project, and the WVU Davis College Diversity Mural Project. She has also served as the WVU NAACP Treasurer, interned at Erica Brannon Gunn’s Law Office, and worked as a tutor with the Academic Resource Center. One of her most memorable experiences at WVU was traveling abroad to Italy with her fellow Honors College students.

Emily Budik is earning bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Art Therapy with a minor in statistics. Upon graduation she will go to London for a master’s degree in Psychology of the Arts, Neuroaesthetics and Creativity. She hopes to become a neuropsychologist and spearhead the integration of using artistic creations as a neurological assessment tool to determine issues with specific areas of the brain. She’s held an internship at the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, worked on several research projects, like the Children and Screens and Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale projects, and has worked in the WVU Cognition, Anxiety, and Treatment Lab with Dr. Shari Steinman. In addition to being named an Eberly Scholar, Emily has received the 1st place Mentored Research Award, Level 1 Scholarship of Distinction, and the WVU Creative Arts Scholarship, among others.

Carter Leadmon is a Mathematics and Computer Science dual major. He plans to enter the tech industry after graduating. Since his freshman year, Carter has been a member of the SGA, where he started as an intern and now serves as At-Large Senator. During his undergraduate education he also found time to volunteer at The Ranch Community Store, First Baptist Church of Hurrican Christmas Dinner Box Ministry, and WVU sponsored trail clean ups. One of the nonacademic accomplishments he is most proud of is being selected as an Orientation Leader, because it allowed him to share his love of the University and the State.

Julia Leyden is a triple History, Philosophy, and Political Science major. She values education and considers it one of her passions. As a WVU student, she served as a Research Apprentice through the RAP Program for Dr. Samuel Workman, and Dr. Herschel Thomas and studied Appalachian Budget Data. Their paper “County Budgetary Dynamics: Findings from Appalachia” was awarded 'Best Paper in Public Policy' by the APSA Public Policy Section. Julia credits the philosophy classes she has taken here at WVU for changing how she thinks about and perceives the world. They have made her a better, smarter, and more thoughtful person. One of her proudest accomplishments is working with South Middle School’s West Virginia History Bowl team, where she serves as an assistant coach. After graduation, Julia plans to either attend Law school or get a Ph.D. in order to become a professor.

Charlie Long is a Political Science and Philosophy major who hopes to attend law school after graduation. His favorite place on campus is Woodburn Hall because of its beauty and the memories it holds. Charlie is President and Cofounder of the WVU Pre-Law Society and worked as a Congressional Intern for United States Senator Joe Manchin over the summer of 2023. The non-academic accomplishment that he is most proud of is landing the position of Chief of Staff within WVU's Student Government Association. While he values hard work, Charlie strives for balance and progress in all areas of his life, at all times. He makes sure to schedule time for fun, reflection and time with his family. His most memorable moment at WVU was speaking at the Spring 2023 TEDx event because it showed him that he is, in fact, a good public speaker. After his talk, Charlie was delighted to discover many of his best friends were in the audience, who showered me with hugs and flowers. It was that moment that he realized how lucky he was to have a close-knit group of friends on campus.

Christian Miller is a Political Science and International Studies major. During his time at WVU, Christian participated in the Henry Clay Center College Student Congress as an exclusive representative for West Virginia, among 51 students representing each state and Washington D.C. There, he received the "Outstanding Policy Position and Compromise Award." In the Fall 2023 semester, he worked as an Immigration Law Intern at Catholic Charities West Virginia Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services. In that role, he offered direct support and assistance to individuals as they navigated the immigration, refugee, and asylee application process. A pivotal experience that influenced his commitment to this cause was when he was welcomed into the home of his college roommate's family. The family immigrated from Bolivia when his roommate was a child. This act of kindness exposed Christian to their rich culture and inspired his commitment to assisting refugees and immigrants in the United States. What he will miss most about his time at WVU is the strong camaraderie and the welcoming atmosphere.

McKenna Moore is an Anthropology and Sociology major obtaining a minor in Native American Studies. At WVU, McKenna works in the Archaeological Training & Research Lab, and she serves as a Monongalia County 4-H Younger Camp Counselor. She began working at a lifeguard at the WVU Recreation Center her freshman year of college and quickly rose to the position of Head Lifeguard by the end of the year. She was then promoted to the position of Program Assistant where she helped manage the Aquatics department. McKenna’s current career goal is to work as a Forensic Anthropologist after she completes her education. She is also interested in using her forensic anthropology training to help communities that have been through catastrophic events by assisting in the identification of various remains left in the aftermath. In doing so, McKenna hopes to help preserve heritage and reunite people with their lost belongings and loved ones. Her favorite place on campus is the osteology lab in the Life Science Building because it was in this classroom that she fell in love with Forensic Anthropology and Human Osteology.

Vanessa Mueller is a Biochemistry major. She plans to attend medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a physician. Since her freshman year, she has volunteered more than 100 hours at Ruby Memorial Hospital in the NICU, Emergency Department, OR, and heart and vascular OR. Vanessa also crochets prayer shawls for donation to St. Andrews Lutheran Church, which gives them to hospitals for patients and visitors in need of comfort. At WVU, she has volunteered for the WVU Global Medical and Dental Brigades and at Pantry Plus More, which provides food to residents of Monongalia County. Her favorite WVU memory is singing Country Roads as a group for an indigenous community during a WVU Global Medical and Dental Brigades trip to Panama. In her spare time, Vanessa loves hiking and considers it an essential part of who she is. Learning how to pace herself as she hikes is a lot like college, she says, in that it involves spreading out the difficulties but taking them on in her own way.

Garrison Phillips is a Political Science and History major with minors in Philosophy and Military Science. WVU Army ROTC and his experience within the Simultaneous Membership Program through the West Virginia Army National Guard have greatly impacted him, ultimately allowing him to become the best version of himself. He has led platoons of 40+ people, and he has spent considerable time pushing his mental and physical limits through obstacle courses, physical fitness tests, and a litany of other physically demanding tasks. While the military has been a major cultivator of his leadership skills, Garrison credits his academic career at WVU for teaching him many things about what it means to be a good leader. Over time, he has learned the importance of care, compassion, and empathy in helping, supporting, and leading others. After graduation, he will miss the late nights spent studying hanging out with friends, as well as the times spent in the WVU library or elsewhere on campus working and learning new things each day.

Bethanny Prascik is an Anthropology and Dance major. She plans to further her education in graduate school by pursuing a degree in either Conservation or Museum Studies. Bethanny is working toward a certificate from the Global Mountaineers Program, which requires a combination of courses in global competency and intercultural knowledge, as well as a study abroad component. This past summer, she studied abroad for six-weeks in Sam Gemini, Italy. She also completed a tour of historically significant sites in Siena, Florence, and Rome during the Winter Intercession term. Bethanny also participates in several major dance performances each year. In Spring 2022, she choreographed her own dance piece titled “Bury a Friend” to the Billie Eilish song of the same name. She was a dancer in the Audacious Women project, an Honors Excel choreography and research project by two senior Dance and Theatre majors that explored the societal roles imposed upon women throughout history.

Madison Santmyer is a Political Science and International Studies major with minors in Spanish and Globalization. She participated in a Model United Nations’ Conference in Erfurt, Germany over Thanksgiving break for her international studies capstone project. During her time at WVU, she has developed a passion for public service. On campus, Madison founded the group Women in Politics and Government and served as president until last Spring. She has also served as a Senator-at-Large, Inclusion Committee Chair and member of the Bureau of Finance for Student Government Association. The non-academic accomplishment she is most proud of is serving as current Student Body President in SGA, which helped hone her leadership and conflict resolution skills. Madison recently began working as an English tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of Preston and Monongalia County.

Taya Sullivan is a Neuroscience (B.S.) and Spanish (B.A.) major with a minor in linguistics. She intends to combine these three fields and pursue a PhD researching auditory neuroscience, speech production and perception, and the neuroscience of language acquisition. She has worked as an Undergraduate Research Apprentice under Dr. Jonah Katz and Dr. Sergio Robles-Puente, examining various topics in acoustic phonetics, phonology, and cognitive science of English and Spanish. Her most memorable moment at WV is planning and executing a successful gender-affirming clothing drive for transgender students on campus as part of the Honors LGBTQ+ and Allies Affinity Group. Outside of academics, Taya is most proud of having taught herself to cook. She is also teaching herself Korean and has gained a modest level of fluency in the language so far.

Quinn Wooten is a Political Science and International Studies major. He is a West Virginia native and has always wanted to work in public service to help his home state. Last academic year, Quinn served as the Student Government Association’s Eberly College Senator. In this position, he helped pass legislation that helped create an Eberly College Student Advisory Board and helped spread awareness of community service opportunities to perspective and new students. The college class that has left the largest impact on Quinn is Empirical Political Analysis – one of his most difficult classes. The class showed him the importance of hard work and not giving up when things get difficult, because the skills he learned there have since served him well in many other classes.