(Editor’s Note: As Commencement nears, WVU Today is featuring some of the University’s most dedicated graduates. Here is the story of one of those outstanding students.)


To Paige Lavender it is not the awards that matter, it is the work.

The West Virginia University journalism graduate and Foundation Outstanding Senior is one of the creators of the Upper Big Branch coal mine memorial website, called Faces of the Mine.

“You get out of school what you put into it, and I came here and threw myself into anything I could,” she said.

For information on WVU's May Commencement, go to http://commencement.wvu.edu/

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To read about other outstanding students who are graduating this May, go to Meet the Graduates.

She began working on the website – which launched April 5, shortly before the one-year anniversary of the mine disaster – as part of a multimedia journalism class. But, as with many of the projects Lavender has taken on, it grew to be much more than an assignment.

“This project is the thing I am most proud of from college,” the Charleston native said. “We have worked so hard, gotten great feedback and met such wonderful people. The whole experience has been great.”

The website, which Lavender and her team have agreed to continue managing after graduation, incorporates many of the skills that she has mastered while at WVU – video, photography, audio and writing.

But, just four years ago Lavender wasn’t interested in doing anything but writing.

“My life goal was to work for a magazine,” she said.

Click below to hear more about Paige Lavender's experience.

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When Associate Dean John Temple encouraged Lavender to sign up for the multimedia journalism class West Virginia Uncovered, Lavender had a change of heart.

“I never considered the fact that you can still do video and not ever be in front of the camera,” she said. “It was my first real taste of video journalism and it opened up a whole new realm for me. It is amazing, I tell everyone to take it.”

Lavender continued enrolling in the course – which took her all over the state to cover assignments – for four semesters.

Despite being honored as one of the top students in the School of Journalism, Lavender is personally proud of the work experience she has gained while in school. She has worked for media organizations around the state including The Dominion Post, Charleston Daily Mail and WSAZ in Charleston. She has also taken her work experience internationally as a marketing intern for the travel company Brit Bound.

After graduation, Lavender will continue to expand her portfolio with a multimedia and editorial internship for the Huffington Post in Washington, D.C.

In the future she hopes to find a job where she can utilize all the skills she has learned at WVU.

“I want to find a job that lets me do everything – video editing, shooting, writing, text editing, design and photography,” she said.

Overall, Lavender attributes her success and growth as a student to the faculty and resources available to her at WVU.

“My WVU experience has been amazing,” she said. “I came here really nervous about how the next four years would go but because I have had access to so many valuable resources here, I have really been able to excel.”

She looks forward to being able to represent WVU while working in D.C., and hopes to move back to the state in the future.

“Everyone who graduates from here represents the Mountaineers,” she said. “I want to show the world what West Virginians can do. I want to show them that we have a lot of talent here.

“I will be happy in post-graduate life to be able to say I went to WVU, and this is what it did for me.”

To view Faces of the Mine, visit http://www.facesofthemine.com . In addition to Lavender, the site was created by senior journalism major Evan Moore and West Virginia Uncovered VISTA Volunteer Katie Griffith, both of whom have been recognized as Foundation Outstanding Seniors.

By Colleen DeHart
WVU University Relations/News



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