On Oct. 26, as the Mountaineers take on Oklahoma State, two WVU students will be crowned for their school spirit.
The award ceremony for the new Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer is a part of WVU’s 70th Annual Mountaineer Week, a 10-day celebration of the culture and history of WVU that starts Friday, Oct. 20.
The award of Mr. or Ms. Mountaineer honors students, undergraduate or graduate, who have displayed high levels of academics and extracurricular involvement during their time at West Virginia University.
Meet the students who are nominated for the honor:
Ahmed Haque is a chemical engineering student and is the president of WVU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He has helped with multiple local and international water accessibility projects, STEM outreach programs, Engineers Without Border’s projects and helped create the testWELL tutoring collaboration with the Honors College.
"Being nominated for Mr. Mountaineer is a great personal honor for me, and it’s even better knowing that I’ve been named alongside four other good friends for Mr. Mountaineer award," Haque said. "I owe many, many thanks to mentors, friends and instructors who’ve motivated me to make the most of my time here at WVU in pursuing my passions."
Haque hopes to bring attention to the various student organizations he is actively involved in through his nomination.
"To me, being a Mountaineer means actively challenging the expectations of one’s role, whether it’s internally or externally defined," Haque said.
Garrett Burgess is a dual-degree student in political science and Russian studies. He is currently the WVU Air Force ROTC Wing Commander, president of both Model United Nations and Russian Club and is the student co-founder and coordinator of WVU Mountaineer Talks.
"Growing up in West Virginia, WVU is engrained in your identity and culture," Burgess said. "Being able to represent West Virginia University with this distinction would be an incredible honor."
Burgess says he is truly humbled by his nomination.
"To even be a finalist indicates that several people believe I have made an impact on this university, which is immensely uplifting," Burgess said.
Hunter White is a biology student. He tutors in the Honors College and devotes his time to various student organizations on campus.
White is the president of Chimes Junior Honorary Society, Vice President of WVU Russian Club, President of Helping Hands and a member of Pre-Med Club and Neuroscience Club.
"Being nominated is an honor that I hold in the highest regard. It represents four years of hard work and dedication to my studies and service to the West Virginia community," White said. "A Mountaineer is someone with an unquenchable desire to give back to the West Virginian roots that have shaped their development, but most importantly a person that is willing to sacrifice and be selfless."
Tanner Filbin is a biomedical engineering student who has served on the Mountaineer Maniacs Executive Board for three years. He also leads a project in the Biomedical Engineering Society that provides free 3-D printed prosthetic hands to people who need them.
Filbin has also done research internships at WVU’s Center for Neurosciences and at Wake Forest’s School of Medicine Center for Injury Biomechanics.
"Being selected as a finalist for Mr. Mountaineer really is the most meaningful honor I’ve received," Filbin, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his entire collegiate career, said.
Filbin’s parents both attended WVU, as does his younger sister, and he hopes his nomination makes his family proud.
"As you can imagine, I have been donning gold and blue and cheering on the Mountaineers for my entire life," Filbin said. "WVU is such a huge part of my family’s identity."
Trevor Kiess is an accounting student with a minor in law and legal studies. Kiess has been involved in SGA as an intern, governor and chief of staff.
Currently, he is serving as the alternate Mountaineer Mascot, and he is also on the Mountaineer Maniacs executive board.
"It’s a huge honor to me to be a finalist for Mr. Mountaineer," Kiess said. "My entire life I have prided myself on being a Mountaineer and upholding the values of West Virginia and her people, and it would be amazing to selected as Mr. Mountaineer."
Kiess thinks that being a Mountaineer is "a mindset propelled by a love for WVU and West Virginia".
"It’s being genuine, kind-hearted, passionate and always willing to give more than you receive while helping in whatever ways possible," Kiess said.
Morgan King is a civil and environmental engineering student. King is the president of the Residence Hall Association, an SGA senator, involved with the group "Our Children, Our Future", Engineers without Borders and Model United Nations.
"To be considered among such well-rounded candidates who exemplify the passion and values of being a true Mountaineer is a tremendous honor," King said. "It is humbling to have the opportunity to be nominated for Ms. Mountaineer."
King thinks that being a Mountaineer does not mean that one must be from West Virginia.
"We come from a diversity of backgrounds and support one another regardless of ethnicity, nationality, race, heritage, culture and identity," King said. "For this, being a Mountaineer is about being in a community of individuals eager to support one another and to watch this community grow globally."
Megan Barthelmess is a industrial engineering student with a minor in event planning. She is the 2017 WVU Relay for Life Co-Director, a member of the WVU Hip Hop Dance Team, a member of the WVU Honors College, President of Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society and the Secretary of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers.
"I am honored and humbled to be a finalist for 2017-2018 Ms. Mountaineer," Barthelmess said. "WVU has provided me with exciting and challenging opportunities throughout my time here, and I am proud to be a part of this special Mountaineer tradition."
Barthelmess thinks that a true Mountaineer is loyal and hardworking. She feels as though these are qualities to carry not only in education but in life.
"WVU will always feel like home to me, and I will forever be an enthusiastic and devoted representative of my university," Barthelmess said.
Brenna Leasor is a psychology student with a minor in business administration. She is currently the President of the WVU Food Recovery Network, Vice-President of the WVU Psychology Club, a senator with Student Government Association and an intern with WVUp All Night.
"As a third generation Mountaineer and Morgantown native, being able to represent the university as a Ms. Mountaineer candidate is incredibly humbling," Leasor said. "To be recognized for my work on campus amongst other outstanding individuals is an amazing opportunity for which I am extremely grateful."
To Leaser, a Mountaineer is person who is "driven, passionate and proud".
"I hope that through my work and accomplishments, I can be an example for what it means to be a true Mountaineer to current and future students," Leasor said.
Rachel Sager is a secondary education student. She is currently student teaching 10th and 12th grade students in social studies at Morgantown High School, the vice president of the Kappa Lambda Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota and a volunteer with the Mountaineer Mentoring Program at South Middle School.
"Being selected as a finalist for Ms. Mountaineer is an absolute honor," Sager said. "It is incredibly rewarding to know that the selection committee viewed my academic success, community service and campus involvement highly enough that they believe I serve as a positive representation of WVU and my fellow Mountaineers."
"Being a Mountaineer does not end upon graduation or at the West Virginia state border; rather, the true journey as a Mountaineer begins when students go out and make their imprint on the world," Sager said.
Savannah Lusk is an exercise physiology student and a first generation college student. She has helped to found the student organization "Helping Hands", which distributes lunches at the Cancer Center.
Lusk is also an ambassador for Honors Hall, a coach for the Mountaineer United Soccer Club, a Girl Scouts volunteer and the 2016 alternate Mountaineer Mascot.
"Being nominated for this award is a great honor, and it means the world to me that I can represent Wyoming County and serve as a role model for other students in my hometown," Lusk said.
"Being a Mountaineer means we are called to strive to better ourselves while seeking opportunities to use our skills to make the world a better place," Lusk said.