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Raegan Hughes

Raegan Hughes
Animal and Nutritional Sciences
Class of 2022
Shady Spring, West Virginia

What is your favorite quote?

"I have no idea what I'm doing, but I know I'm doing it really, really well." -- Andy Dwyer, Parks & Recreation

What book would you recommend and why?

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. I read this book in the 12th grade and absolutely fell in love with it. It tells the story of two Afghani girls before and after the Taliban began running the country. It leaves you on cliffhangers at the end of every chapter so that you can't stop reading. But, what I love the most about it is that it shows you a side, especially for Afghani women, that Americans don't really get to see. It's very eye-opening while also leading you through an emotional.

Why WVU?

I applied to WVU and a couple of other schools, and nothing compared to the experience I had with WVU. The staff and students were so encouraging and helpful. I wasn't treated as just another potential student. Every time I reached out for information, each department made sure that the conversation wasn't finished until all of my questions and concerns were dealt with. When I came for a tour, I was greeted with enthusiasm and acceptance. I even got to sit down with my current advisor and discuss my future well past my undergraduate education. WVU felt like home from the moment that I stepped campus as a high school junior. I was never able to find that homey feeling at other universities. The love and dedication that these students and faculty have for the university and the state as a whole is awing, and because of that, the atmosphere in Morgantown can't be beat.

What do you love most about your major?

Obviously, I love my major because it's set up to perfectly prepare me to get into vet school; however, going past the obvious, I love my major because it gives me an opportunity to explore my interest field more. While most other majors are structured and require a series of pre-requisites before you can reach your required upper-level courses, the Animal & Nutritional Sciences major is very flexible. With about 50 credit hours worth of free elective classes, I can take classes that I may have never known that I'd be interested in. I can expand my animal experience by taking an equine studies class or a dairy heifer class at the farm, or I could pick up a minor in a completely different field and not have to worry about graduating on time.

What are your career goals?

I ultimately want to be a small/companion animal veterinarian with a self-practice. I've actually wanted to be a a vet since I started school. Of course, I love animals, but I also love learning about science and medicine, problem solving, and helping others, so the career is quite fitting. If vet school doesn't work out, I'm thinking about focusing on animal behavior and training service dogs, something I didn't realize I wanted to do until I started taking service dog training classes at WVU.

What is your proudest achievement while at WVU?

Technically, this was before I was officially enrolled at WVU, but I'll use it anyway. As a high school senior, I won the WVU Bucklew Scholarship, a competitive, in-state scholarship valued at $10,000 a year. I put so much effort into my school work and extracurriculars in high school, and it felt so good to be rewarded for my hard work going into college. Becoming a Bucklew Scholar has given me many other opportunities, including mentoring high school students throughout their application processes, having additional volunteering experiences, and providing advice to seniors applying for the same scholarship.

What is a cause you're passionate about?

I'm most passionate about rescuing animals from the shelter and preventing more animals from being admitted. I grew up watching Animal Planet's Animal Cops, and I think that seeing the neglected and abusive lives that some animals had to live prior to entering the shelter just made me even more sympathetic toward them. I begged my parents for years to take me to the shelter so I could walk dogs, but I never managed to convince them. When I turned 18, however, I started volunteering on my own. I would drive over to the animal shelter in Beckley and walk dogs for two hours and then go inside and play with the cats. That shelter is severely under-staffed and under-funded, so between my mother and I we try to volunteer and donate as much as we can. This summer I adopted a cat that had been there for almost a year and a half. Seeing the transformation she's gone through since leaving the shelter has been amazing and has only reinforced my passion. Even now that I'm up in Morgantown I still volunteer at shelters. I'm an officer for the student organization PAWS. We work with local shelters and rescue groups by volunteering at their facilities and fundraising. I'm hoping that when I become a veterinarian I'll be able to provide low-cost spays and neuters in poorer areas of the state as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and keep more animals out of the shelters.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Learn time management! I was the biggest procrastinator in high school, and I immediately realized that I couldn't be like that in college without majorly stressing myself out. Get whatever assignments that you can done whenever you have time throughout the week. That means not waiting until the end of the day to start studying but, instead, doing it between classes. If you get your assignments done early, you'll have way more personal time to attend club meetings, hang out with friends, or cheer on the Mountaineers at sporting events. Plus, it will keep you from feeling so overwhelmed and compromising your mental health.