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Undergraduate Research Spotlight: Talia Buchman


Talia Buchman, an anthropology major, posing in Israel on a railing. She is wearing a blue top, shorts, and is smiling. She has brown hair and blue eyes and is skinny. The terrain behind her is a dusty desert and it mets the blue muddled sky.
Talia Buchman ('21) is an Anthropology major with minors in biology and dance. In April, Buchman was selected as an Eberly Scholar and in September she was endorsed for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship by WVU. The Eberly Scholarship is for upcoming juniors and seniors in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. Some of the considerations for Eberly Scholar include future goals, community service, club involvement, and academics, such as undergraduate teaching assistantships and research. Up to 25 students are named as Eberly Scholars each year. 

The Marshall Scholarship is a nationally competitive scholarship that funds two years of graduate school at universities in the UK. In order to apply for the scholarship, students’ universities need to interview and endorse them.

Q: How did you earn this achievement? 

A: The Eberly Scholar applications are submitted late February and I heard back from the selection committee around mid-April. My involvement with academic and non-academic programs, such as research, undergraduate teaching assistantships, and clubs, all played a role in being selected as an Eberly Scholar. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities given to me by the Anthropology department, WVU's Honors collegeEberly's College of Arts and Sciences, Education Abroad Office, and student organizations, which all helped make my undergraduate experience as full and rewarding as it could be. One of my largest goals for college was to try and take every opportunity I could learn and grow in. That outlook helped me write the application.  

The Marshall Scholarship application was a very lengthy but rewarding process. It involved multiple essays including a personal statement, the intended master’s programs, plans for after graduate school, ambassadorial experience, and leadership experience. I started writing the essays early this summer and was interviewed by WVU for endorsement. It was definitely a long process, but well worth it!

Did you overcome any barriers or challenges during this process? 

For the Eberly Scholar application the hardest barrier to overcome was second guessing what I accomplished in college to help with my selection. The application involved reflecting and writing about numerous aspects and times in college. Writing about these accomplishments made me nervous. It made me think that I was not productive enough as a student through student organizations and leadership. Every time I hit a writing roadblock, I was also nervous that I hadn't accomplished enough in my field. It was hard. But I reminded myself that I had tried my best with everything I could do. The main thing I needed to do with the application was to try my best with that too. 

It was definitely tricky trying to initially write the personal statement for the Marshall Scholarship. I have a lot of passion for learning about primates and primate conservation, which has been true my whole life, but I had a hard time initially conveying that passion in my writing. I think I wrote about five different versions of my personal statement. Re-writing the paper multiple times frustrated me in the beginning, but after reading through the new versions I saw how much my essay had improved and greatly appreciated the feedback I was given.

How do you think this achievement will benefit you in the future? 

Being an Eberly Scholar was very beneficial this year because of the financial assistance they provided. I also felt a lot of support from different people in the Eberly College since being named an Eberly Scholar. My selection has allowed me to identify the network and community I have within the Eberly College for Arts and Sciences.

Working on the Marshall Scholarship--even if I don’t end up pursuing graduate school in the UK-- allowed me to think through what I want to get out of my graduate school experience. It also gave me a chance to consider where I want to be when I finish school and how I want to shape my career. The application process definitely helped me learn more about where I want to be 5-to-10 years from now, which I greatly appreciate.    

What has been your greatest takeaway from this experience? 

I’ve really enjoyed noticing my growth as a student and writer. When I first applied to be an Eberly Scholar, I was an incoming junior, but was not selected. Since then, I've completed a summer internship, studied abroad, been accepted to the Honors EXCEL program, presented research on at regional and national virtual conferences, and became the Anthropology Club president. As much as it would have been exciting to be selected as an Eberly Scholar when I was a junior, it allowed me to identify how hard I worked during college and the growth that's come with it over the course of a year. 

Being endorsed for the Marshall Scholarship helped me to feel ready for life after graduation, whether that involves graduate school or applying for jobs. The Marshall Scholarship application allowed me to think about my future and hearing that the university endorsed me, knowing my goals and plans, made me feel like the scholarship committee believed in my ability to realize those goals.