Student Spotlight: Sean Ray

Sean Ray, a secondary education social studies major, discovered WVU by chance, and it was love at first sight. A Buffalo, N.Y., native, Ray visited WVU on his first college tour with his grandparents, who live in Virginia.

“WVU was the last stop on the tour,” Ray said. “No matter what I was doing or where I was looking, that visit just always stayed in the back of my head. I just loved it right away.”

When he arrived on campus as a freshman, Ray was overwhelmed by all of the new faces and experiences. He didn’t join any groups or clubs, and his athletic training major wasn’t the right fit. It was then that he considered switching his major to education, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“Teaching was always something that I thought about,” Ray said. “It was always something that I could see myself doing.”

Since history was his favorite class growing up, Ray enrolled in the five-year teacher education program with the intent to teach high school civics and government courses.

“I love politics,” Ray said. “I think it’s the most relevant thing to be studying at any point, because the politics of today are the history of tomorrow.”

During his time at WVU, Ray has also learned that the key to success at the University is to get involved in WVU’s many student organizations. Now an active member of the campus community, Ray acknowledges the difference that joining student groups has made in his college career.

“The second I got active, my grades went up,” Ray said. “I enjoyed being here so much more. And I really haven’t stopped involving myself since then.”

Today, Ray rows with the men’s rowing team, volunteers through Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, and serves as a CEHS Student Ambassador. When he’s speaking with new and prospective students, Ray shares the value of campus engagement.

“I tell them not to let the size of the University intimidate them and to make sure they get involved,” Ray said. “Because that’s where you’re going to find your best friends. That’s what’s going to keep you engaged.”

Ray’s work as a CEHS Student Ambassador has not only allowed him to connect with other students, but it has also provided him with unique opportunities that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.

This spring, Ray had the opportunity to represent CEHS on WVU Extension Day at the West Virginia Legislature. His interest in politics was well served by the chance to meet and talk with state government officials.

“That was probably the best experience I’ve had – going out there and getting to talk to legislators,” Ray said. “It was nice to see everybody and get to know West Virginia more, since I’m not from here. I’d never been to the capitol building before. It was a special day.”

A rising senior, Ray will be filling new leadership roles for the 2017-2018 academic year. He’ll serve as the president of the men’s rowing team and the treasurer for the Sports Club Federation, the largest student-run club sports organization in the country.

Beginning July 1, Ray will take on another role at CEHS as the student representative to the College’s Visiting Committee (advisory board) which is comprised of individuals who help connect CEHS research and teaching activities with the broader community.

“I think it will be a huge learning experience, and I’ll be able to take a lot of what I observe and engage in into any future career that I have,” Ray said.

Though Ray still has two years left at WVU as a student in the five-year teacher program, he’s already begun to consider his career options upon graduation. He might pursue a conventional teaching path, but he is also thinking about applying to law school or teaching internationally.

Ray’s interest in international work came after he studied abroad in Münster, Germany, last summer, an experience that he found to be incredibly valuable.

“You’re out there by yourself, and it’s one of the most important things you can do for self-growth,” Ray said. “It’s really beneficial for somebody teaching social studies to view other cultures from the inside.”

The past three years at WVU have brought Ray challenges, opportunities and significant personal growth. His next two years here are sure to offer him even more.

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