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Petal Palmer

A portrait of Petal Palmer who is wearing a white top with black edging under a black jacket in front of a white wall.

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Petal Palmer from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, will graduate with a degree in exercise physiology.

She is a member of the 100 Black Women at WVU, who participated in the fashion show during the 2022 African Students Association annual gala and represented WVU student-athletes at the 2023 Black Student-Athlete Summit in Los Angeles, California.

A member of the WVU track and field and cross country teams, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA while bravely battling through cancer treatments, serving as an intern and engaging in extracurricular activities.

A passion to improve patient care through storytelling, her purpose is to work in preventative medicine and as a medical ethics advocate.

During her freshman year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Palmer competed in cross country at the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA National Championship. She competed in outdoor and indoor track as a sophomore before being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the beginning of her junior year.

In and out of the hospital following her diagnosis, she was no longer able to compete; however, through perseverance and Mountaineer grit she continued to support and encourage her teammates as the team captain.

Last summer, she created her own research-based YouTube channel, which she named “Petal Palmer,” dedicated to bringing medical ethics to the forefront by exploring medical errors and mysteries. To date, the channel has attracted nearly 140,000 subscribers.

Palmer was selected to present on the phenomenon of “cancer ghosting” as a 2024 TedxWVU speaker. Her talk was titled “My Friends Cut Me Off Because I Have Cancer: Cancer Ghosting.”

The opportunity to participate in three internships solidified her passion to work in preventative medicine. She taught classes on exercise at a local nursing home as part of the Exercise is Medicine program and conducted lectures on mobility for older adults for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Additionally, Palmer helped patients with Parkinson’s disease use a gait belt to participate in a boxing classes at the Human Performance Lab.

For her senior thesis, she conducted research on the effects of different types of altitude training on distance athletes.

A reflection of her grit and determination, one of her most fulfilling experiences is the creation of the Petal Palmer Award by WVU Athletics to be presented each year to athletes who have overcome adversity to achieve academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics.

Palmer was honored as a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll for her academic achievements, and outside the classroom, she recently won first place in the technical category of the WVU LGBTQ+ Center Great Pride Bake Off for her “perfectly rainbow layer cake.”

After graduation, she will continue making videos for her YouTube Channel and eventually attend medical school.