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Aubrey Gahagen named Catamounts Climb Higher award recipient


Aubrey Gahagen, a senior in the Bachelor of Science School of Nursing program, has been presented with the Catamounts Climb Higher award at West Virginia University Potomac State College.

“Aubrey has a heart of gold. She is so kind, compassionate, and insightful to the needs of others, especially those that struggle with adversity and challenges. She goes out of her way to volunteer in both the Morgantown and Keyser communities to improve the lives of others. She lives and exemplifies the values of the Climb Higher initiative every day,” voiced Dr. April Shapiro, Nursing Department chair and assistant professor.

Although she has faced obstacles regarding her educational career, Gahagen has never given up on her dream of being a nurse or abandoned her love for WVU. For example, when she was a freshman pre-nursing student on the Morgantown campus, there were no open spots in the School of Nursing program, leaving her to fall behind her peers and graduate later than expected. However, there was an available spot in the School of Nursing program at WVU Potomac State College, which would allow her to graduate as planned, which she gladly accepted.

Regardless of this unexpected campus change in her college experience, Gahagen displayed resilience, stating “Being a student at WVU Keyser has taught me more that I could have ever imagined, and I couldn’t be happier that things didn’t work out the way that I thought they were supposed to.”

Climb Higher recipients are recognized for their ability to bounce back despite encountering obstacles, for overcoming challenges, and for staying the course. Recipients are also recognized for their outstanding work ethic, kindness, and positive attitude. Although this award is not based on GPA, recipients must be in good academic standing.

Gahagen is involved with the campus community and is active with both the Morgantown and Keyser communities. She serves as a member of the WVU Student Nurses’ Association and the National Student Nurses’ Association, which has presented her with the opportunity to represent the WVU School of Nursing at national conferences in Salt Lake City, Utah and Nashville, Tennessee.

She has accumulated countless hours of volunteer service that pertain to healthcare services, such as providing medicine to the unsheltered population of Morgantown, spreading breast cancer awareness as a member of the Taunia Oechslin Girls Night Out Committee, providing vaccination clinics with the Monongalia County Health Department, and providing Narcan training to the community.

Coinciding with her dedication to helping others and her career goals, Gahagen previously served as a nurse extern with WVU Medicine at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. She has also volunteered at churches in Pennsylvania, Florida and West Virginia by providing childcare.

Gahagen attributes each of her professors as playing a role in her success at Potomac State College, stating “Each and every one of my professors have positively impacted me and my student experience, including Professor April Shapiro and all the School of Nursing professors for helping me with a smooth transition between campuses, for being exceptional resources and for leading all of us to success.”

When asked to share a piece of advice that she would give to incoming students, Gahagen said, “Follow you heart, stay consistent, and dream big. You are exactly where you need to be.”


*Story written by Emily Kimble, a freshman English major and student employee in University Relations at WVU Potomac State College.