Lauren Volk from Cross Lanes will graduate with a degree in English/secondary education.
She has served as a Presidential Student Ambassador, senator at-large in the Student Government Association, vice president of Mountaineer Mentors, service chair of the Mortar Board and a speech and writing tutor in the Eberly Writing Studio.
This Eberly Scholar has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while immersed in research and outreach focused on destigmatizing Appalachian dialects, student teaching in middle and high schools, providing spiritual and emotional mentorship to students as a leader in the Campus Crusade for Christ and volunteering more than 200 hours to community service.
She worked alongside faculty from the Department of English as the lab manager of the West Virginia Dialect Project to compare the dialects of urban and rural high school students across the state and study how the perceptions of dialect differences shape educational experiences.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, this research seeks to reduce discrimination against students from Appalachia who possess the often stigmatized speech features pejoratively referred to as speaking “country” by better educating faculty and other students.
Volk, who believes secondary teachers play a vital role in shaping the next generation of leaders, reports her opportunities for student teaching while helping students navigate their daily struggles — from relationships to poverty and food insecurity — have been among her most rewarding experiences at WVU.
She served as a student teacher at Mountaineer Middle School and Fairmont Senior High School, and a student observer at Morgantown High School.
“I may not perform brain surgery or cure a genetic disorder in the future, but as a teacher, I will try my best to inspire those who will,” Volk said.
An aspiring principal, Volk plans to work as a teacher in West Virginia for several years and eventually pursue a master’s degree in educational administration.