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Eberly Scholars

Our Eberly Scholars are committed to scholarship, leadership and service. Meet this year's cohort and learn how they've made the most of their college experiences.

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Laura Alcalde

Major: Psychology Hometown: Morgantown, WV

Laura aspires to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and then use her education to study mental health disparities among ethnic and minority groups, with a specific focus in Latinx populations. She is helping to restart WVU’s chapter of the Lambda Theta Alpha sorority, the oldest Latina sorority, which incorporates sisterhood and unity. For the past few years, she’s also overseen her family’s holiday meals and has learned to cook recipes ranging from empanadas to souffles to chicken tikka masala.

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Alexandra Benyola

Major: Neuroscience, Psychology Hometown: Williamstown, NJ

Alexandra plans to attend medical school; whatever field she specializes in, it will involve children in some way. Her passion for medicine was cemented when she traveled to Panama as part of the Global Medical and Dental Brigades. She is a board member for MountaineerTHON, an annual all-day dance event that raises money for WVU Children’s Hospital. Her favorite place on campus is the Chemistry Learning Center, where she recommends going, even if you don’t take any chemistry classes.

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Jessica Burke

Major: Biology Minor: Psychology Hometown: Kearneysville, WV

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Sophie Crowder

Major: Biochemistry Hometown: Harpers Ferry, WV

Sophie plans to attend medical school after earning her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Becoming a physician will help her have a direct impact in her community and help people get through some of the toughest challenges they’ll ever face. She is preparing for a future of service to her community by volunteering in the post-op recovery room at Ruby Memorial Hospital. A self-described shy and insecure freshman, Sophie is now one of the leaders of the Mountaineer Maniacs fan group. Her favorite place to be at WVU is the Coliseum, cheering and singing “Country Roads” after a Mountaineer victory.

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Madalena Daugherty

Major: Biochemistry Hometown: Weirton, WV

Madalena Daugherty’s appreciation for the sciences and desire to help others led her from her hometown of Weirton, West Virginia, to WVU. After she completes her bachelor's degree in biochemistry, she plans to attend medical school. She credits the Neil S. Bucklew Scholarship she received in 2021 with helping her to expand her activities on campus, including mentoring students in the Honors College, tutoring undergraduate chemistry students, and volunteering with Mail 4 Vets, which provides virtual greetings to hospitalized veterans.

Taylor Delong

Major: International Studies, Philosophy Minor: Women and Gender Studies  Hometown: Oceana, WV

Taylor Delong is working toward a bachelor’s degree in international studies and philosophy, with a minor in women’s and gender studies. She plans to go to law school, and then become a defense lawyer or public defender. She is an intern for the West Virginia Innocence Project. Her trip to France as a WVU student has also piqued her interest in a career in foreign affairs with the US State Department. When it’s warm outside, she and her friends can often be found on the lawn in front of Elizabeth Moore Hall, playing Yahtzee.

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Olivia Dowler

Major: History, Spanish, Philosophy Hometown: Weirton, WV

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Gabrielle Frazier

Major: English, Geography Minor: Political Science Hometown: Gerrardstown, WV

Gabrielle Frazier is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English and geography, with a minor in political science. She says her most memorable moment at WVU was during the Monday Night Lights event her freshman year, when she sang “Country Roads” for the first time. Her many accomplishments include working toward sustainable development with WVU’s Center for Resilient Communities, serving as community service chair for 100 Black Women, writing for Mirage Magazine, and volunteering with the Appalachian Prison Book Project. She plans to attend law school and become an environmental lawyer.

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Ethan Harner

Major: Geography, Economics Minor: Landscape Studies Hometown: Harpers Ferry, WV

Ethan is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in geography and economics, with a minor in landscape studies. He plans to earn a graduate degree in urban planning, and then work in affordable housing policy. He enjoys running, hiking, and climbing, and says his goal is to climb the tallest mountain in every state. His most memorable moment at WVU was when his car broke down in southern West Virginia while he was on a research trip with several friends and colleagues.

Luke Hawranick

Major: Mathematics, Computer Science Hometown: Fairmont, WV

Luke Hawranick is working toward a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science. He hasn’t picked a specific career goal yet but finds himself becoming passionate about algorithm design and discrete mathematics. Luke is the president of the Math Club and a member of the WVU Track Club. He also studies piano; in fact, he’s recently finished a 13-page ballad for a piano competition. Still, he says his favorite spot on campus is Room 315 in Armstrong Hall, where he always learns something new.

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Emily Herron

Major: Neuroscience, Spanish Minor: Biology Hometown: Weston, WV

Emily Herron is working toward a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and Spanish, with a minor in biology. Earlier this year, she presented her research in neuroimmunology to state lawmakers in Charleston. Her Spanish studies were enhanced by the opportunity to spend a month studying in Spain, where she absorbed the culture firsthand and met many new friends. She plans to go to medical school to become a neurosurgeon, and perhaps combine that with a Ph.D. to assist in her research efforts.

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Bryan Hill

Major: Anthropology, History Minor: Spanish Hometown: Princeton, WV

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Madison Holland

Major: Biology Minor: Medical Humanities & Health Studies Hometown: Elkins, WV

Madison is earning her bachelor’s degree biology with a minor in Medical Humanities and Health Studies. As a twin, she has a special interest in reproductive science. The native of Elkins, West Virginia, plans to go on to medical school and pursue a career in reproductive endocrinology. She already works as an operating room surgical technician and serves in the U.S. Army Reserves.

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Charles Long

Major: Political Science Minor: Philosophy Hometown: Charleston, WV

Charles is working toward a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in philosophy. He serves as the attorney general for WVU’s student government and plans to go to law school. He has worked with the Appalachian Prison Book Project and with Pantry Plus More, a local food bank. He’s most proud of being selected to speak as part of the TEDxWVU talk program about his own experiences with self-doubt.

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Caitlin Mead

Major: English, Psychology Hometown: Wheeling, WV

Caitlin Mead will always remember her role as a student orientation leader, welcoming new Mountaineers and their families to campus, and making many friends in the process. She’s good at that; she met her roommate on move-in day as a freshman, and they’ve remained roommates ever since. Caitlin is working on a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology, and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in higher education, hoping to someday be a dean or the director of a college. She’s been a leader for WVU’s chapter of Active Minds, a group devoted to mental health issues, especially those involving college students.

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Gracie Monachello

Major: Neuroscience Hometown: Walkersville, WV

Gracie wants to become a neurologist, and to that end is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. She plans to remain in Appalachia and help overcome the health disparities faced by residents here. Gracie is secretary and service head of the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Society. At home in Weston, West Virginia, she volunteers for the county’s Meals on Wheels program, and fosters pregnant cats from the nearby animal shelter.

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Kiran Patel

Major: Biology Minor: Medical Humanities & Health Studies Hometown: Vienna, WV

Kiran is graduating this semester with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in medical humanities and health studies. He plans to spend the next year working as a clinical associate at Ruby Memorial Hospital, before attending medical school. He works with several organizations on campus, including Global Medical and Dental Brigades, Remote Area Medical, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society. He counts his most memorable moment at WVU as sitting in the front row when Dr. Mark Tinsley ignited a hydrogen-filled balloon on the first day of Chemistry 115.

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Bethanny Prascik

Major: Anthropology, Dance Hometown: Fairmont, WV

Bethanny Prascik is working toward a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and dance, with the goal of becoming a museum curator after graduate school. In addition to performing in various shows and being part of WVU’s Student Dance Association, Bethanny also serves as treasurer of the WVU Anthropology Club and as an editorial board member for the Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review, and volunteers in the WVU Archaeology Lab. Many of her dance classes and rehearsals are in her favorite place on campus, Elizabeth Moore Hall, but Bethanny also enjoys curling up on an E. Moore couch in between classes to relax or squeeze in a little homework.

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Makaela Quinn

Major: Biology Minor: Child Development & Family Studies Hometown: Wheeling, WV

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Allison Ralston

Major: Biology (WVUTeach Program Emphasis) Hometown: Bridgeport, WV

Allison Ralston is a junior majoring in biology with an area of emphasis in the WVUTeach Program. She is a member of the American Association for Anatomy, does research at the Health Sciences Campus in Anatomical Variations through the Research Apprenticeship Program and is a teaching assistant for 100- and 200-level Biology courses. In her free time, Allison enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, biking, running, and other outdoor activities. One of her favorite experiences at WVU has been with the WVUTeach Program while going to local high schools to teach Biology to sophomores. After graduation, Allison plans on continuing her education by getting an education master's degree and then teaching biology and anatomy at a high school in West Virginia.

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Madison Santmyer

Major: Political Science, International Studies Minor: Spanish, Geography/Globilization Hometown: Purcellville, VA

Madison was inaugurated as WVU’s 110th student body president this year. She is the 10th woman to hold that position. She is majoring in political science and international studies, with minors in Spanish and geography/globalization. She plans to go to law school and someday practice international law. Madison founded the organization Women in Politics and Government and serves as that group’s president. She’s a member of Alpha Phi sorority, where she previously served as vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She’s a member of several other groups, including Women in Law, the Pre-Law Society, Chimes Junior Honorary, the FirstGen Mountaineers Society, and the Mountaineer Fentanyl Education Task Force.

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Jenna Sergent

Major: Social Work Minor: Disability Studies Hometown: Hurricane, WV

Jenna is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work and a multidisciplinary studies degree, comprised of minors in political science, sociology, and psychology. She plans to attend graduate school in social work and public administration, but before that, she is taking a few years off to work in repropsychology, and sductive health and advocacy. She is a leader of the campus group Students for Reproductive Justice and has helped lead the Student Basic Needs Coalition and The Rack campus food pantry. She’s a member of Phi Alpha, the social work honor society, and the Appalachian Advocacy Network. Her most memorable moment at WVU was studying in Italy, after pandemic restrictions eased, and her favorite spot here is the Knapp Hall student lounge, which she calls one of the downtown campus’s best-kept secrets.

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Lauren Sexton

Major: Biology Minor: Psychology, Music Performance Hometown: Williamstown, WV

Lauren says her favorite place on campus is the fifth floor of the Life Sciences Building, where the many windows provide a great view of the downtown campus. She is working on a bachelor’s degree in biology, with minors in psychology and music performance. One performance she is proud of was at MountaineerTHON, the dance fundraiser for WVU Children’s Hospital, where she has been the top individual fundraiser for the past few years. She’s a member of the Project 168 Society, volunteers with the Appalachian Prison Book Project, and works as a patient care technician at WVU Hospitals. She credits the book “Do Hard Things” by Steve Magness as an inspiration, and enjoys reading classic novels, including Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie.

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Hannah Smart

Major: Neuroscience Hometown: Lewisburg, WV

Hannah plans to attend medical school after she earns her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. She ultimately plans to focus on oncology, and to that end, she interned at the WVU Cancer Institute, where she worked alongside Dr. Elena Pugacheva to conduct breast cancer-related research. She presented her research at the institute’s symposium and counts that as one of her two most memorable moments at WVU. The other is when she toured WVU as a potential student, learned of the research opportunities available here, and knew this would be her choice of where to go to college. Asked what she’ll miss about WVU, she says, “Nothing … because once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.”

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Natalie Wonsettler

Major: Biology Minor: English, Medical Humanities & Health Studies Hometown: Morgantown, WV