Three West Virginia University students have been named as finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship, including Olympic Gold Medalist Virginia ‘Ginny’ Thrasher.
The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the oldest and most celebrated international awards in the world, and WVU officials say this may be the first time that the university has advanced this many finalists for this award. Between 1904 and 2018 West Virginia University has had 24 Rhodes Scholarship winners. The Rhodes Scholarship provides all expenses for two to four years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
The three WVU students named as finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship are Virginia ‘Ginny’ Thrasher, of Springfield, Virginia and Emma Harrison and Andrea Pettit of Morgantown. All three students will interview with the Rhodes District XI Committee of Selection in Chicago on November 16 – 17. All three women are students in the WVU Honors College.
Thrasher famously won a gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in the women’s 10-meter air rifle. Thrasher said she wants to explore the idea that what helped her become the top athlete in her sport can help others. Thrasher has volunteered at the WVU Recovery Center, which supports students with substance abuse problems. Additionally, Thrasher travels around the state encouraging young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Thrasher is majoring in biochemical engineering in the Slater College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, and plans to study cognitive and evolutionary anthropology and psychological research if selected for the Rhodes Scholarship.
Emma Harrison was named WVU’s 23rd Truman Scholar and a Newman Civic Fellow earlier this year for her advocacy for prison education and reform. Harrison is also enrolled in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which provides students with the opportunity to take college courses alongside imprisoned men. Additionally, Harrison became a teaching assistant during her junior year, and has now embarked on research with the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Diversion and Transition to study the impact of educational and vocational programs on the rate of recidivism. Harrison is majoring in political science and multidisciplinary studies in the Eberly College of Arts and sciences and plans to earn a doctorate of philosophy in criminology if selected to the Rhodes Scholarship.
To prepare for her future career as a physician, Andrea Pettit has volunteered hundreds of hours in a local hospital as a family liaison for the Intensive Care and Post Anesthesia Care units as a neonatal “cuddler” holding babies who are withdrawing from substance addiction. Pettit has also worked as a research assistant on a project that will help medical professionals know more about how men and women react differently to various treatments for autoimmune disorders. Additionally, Pettit is a member of the WVU cross country and track teams. Pettit is majoring in immunology and medical microbiology in the School of Medicine, and plans to earn two masters degrees integrated immunology and primary healthcare if selected to the Rhode’s Scholarship.