Meet the Grads
Students from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will walk across the stage on Sunday, May 12 as they graduate from West Virginia University, ready to take on the world.
As Commencement is upon us, several of our Eberly College graduates reflect on their time at WVU and their plans for the future. Check back daily through Commencement weekend as we introduce new grads!
Reiley Clark, from Teays Valley, West Virginia, has used her intersecting passions to complete a double major in history and international studies while minoring in law and legal studies. During her time at WVU, she studied British history abroad in the United Kingdom.
After graduation, Clark will spend a gap year serving with West Virginia Legal Aid in Charleston, West Virginia, through AmeriCorps.
“My majors have given me insight into skills and talents I didn't know I had and have helped them develop to their full potential,” Clark said. “I have applied myself and challenged myself through these majors, and they have given me a better understanding of law and academia.”
Clark will always remember the sense of belonging and the promise of lasting personal and professional relationships that comes from being a Mountaineer.
“Mountaineer nation is a network of talented, exceptional people who are united in a purpose to go beyond anything and everything to better themselves, the community and the world,” she said. “Being a Mountaineer is being a pioneer in your own right and believing in that throughout your time in college and for the rest of your life."
Hurricane, West Virginia, native Jana El-Khatib is a psychology major and Arabic studies minor.
She is a 2019 Fulbright Scholar and will use the award to teach English in Malaysia.
“I have a strong desire to delve into the culture of Malaysia where there is the influence of various countries. I believe it will be a gratifying experience, allowing me to fully engage in other cultures and to spread knowledge while gaining it as well,” El-Khatib said. “I feel that my background in teaching and my background in psychology and Arabic studies will bring a unique perspective.”
El-Khatib hopes to attend dental school following her work abroad.
“I plan to use my experience in helping me become a better dental care provider,” she said. “I hope to be a part of an initiative improving the health of people in rural and remote areas of the world through primary care practices including hands-on diagnosis, treatment, prevention and education.”
Iselin, New Jersey, native Shaniyah Jasper is a women’s and gender studies major with a law and legal studies minor, disciplines that taught her about the importance of intersectionality and inspired her drive to help women and children. These experiences led her to an internship with the West Virginia State Legislature and to Uganda to advocate for women’s rights.
After graduation, Jasper plans to pursue a Master of Social Work to prepare for her future career as a social worker.
“My classes have ranged from sexuality to marriage and how society affects both of those,” Jasper said. “I know one day as a social worker that I will have to work with people who fall on all sorts of spectrums.”
Jasper looks back fondly on the feelings of community around campus and the friendships she found with other WVU students.
“Being a Mountaineer is being there for those around you and vice versa. Having people in your corner, mountaineers in your corner, is so important.”
Timofei Kharisov, a Hinton, West Virginia native, is an international studies and Russian studies double major. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in international security and diplomacy.
“I've always had a desire to learn everything I can about the complex world we live in. My international studies major has facilitated a path for me to pursue that goal,” Kharisov said. “My Russian studies major has taught me about the rich history of one of the most interesting areas of the world. Since my entire family is from Russia, it has been especially rewarding to explore the past of my own heritage.”
He endeavors to understand the diverse facets of the world.
“More than anything, my major has taught me to be open-minded. There are a lot of different types of people in the world and we all see it differently,” Kharisov said. “When pursuing my career, I will always remember to approach situations with the intent to question ideas or values that I believe are fact.”
Pamela Nestor is an English and strategic communications double major from Spanishburg, West Virginia. After graduation, Nestor plans to find a position in Morgantown and looks forward to experiencing the city in a new light.
“I’m excited to find an editing job in the Morgantown area and spend a year exploring the town as a working professional,” she said.
Nestor decided to pursue professional editing as a career because of her passion for writing. She wants to challenge the misconception that English majors only become educators.
“When people learn I am an English major, the most common response is, ‘So, you want to be a teacher?’ And while that is an option, it's not what I have chosen,” Nestor said. “The writing and editing classes in the professional writing and editing area of emphasis have taught me what I need to be a successful technical editor.”
Nestor stresses the important of following your passions and embracing the inevitable change that comes with growth.
“You change so much as a person in four years,” Nestor said. “I'm quicker to seize opportunities, and I'm much more patient. Most importantly, I've learned that life is too unpredictable to not embrace what you love.”
Madison Riffe, a Charleston, West Virginia, native, is a biology major and psychology minor.
Through her research capstone, Riffe has discovered her passion for neuroscience. This fall, she plans to begin a Doctor of Philosophy in neuroscience and behavior.
“I’m looking forward to growing as a researcher and a student during my time in graduate school,” she said.
To Riffe, WVU offers welcoming atmosphere that helped her grow as a student while still providing the tools she needed to succeed.
“WVU has all of the resources of a large university,” she said. “However, I’ve always felt like I was valued as an individual and as a student here in a way that you wouldn’t expect at a massive university.”
Bethani Turley is a Charleston, West Virginia, native and a geography master’s student.
“The geography master’s program has given me valuable experience in designing, conducting, analyzing and presenting research,” she said. “I will use this experience in my career in both academic and non-academic settings.”
Following graduation, Turley plans to conduct funded fieldwork for the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through the Central Appalachian Folk and Traditional Arts Planning and Survey Project.
“I am looking forward to working on a project over the summer about traditional arts programming in West Virginia,” she said. “I will be documenting traditional arts in the northern panhandle and northwestern West Virginia and interviewing individuals who participate in traditional arts programming.