We train our WV SPOT Ambassadors to give quality presentations. Through our intensive training weekends, ambassadors learn space science content knowledge, science communication skills, public speaking skills, and how to handle questions from students. These college role models are diverse and full of inspiration!
Kelsey Offutt is a sophomore at West Virginia University studying Elementary Education. She is originally from Huntington, WV. This is her second year in SPOT, which she joined to get K-12 students excited about science and promote future STEM careers. She hopes to visit schools all around the state in the next year and reach students that have never considered the possibility of working on scientific breakthroughs in their home state.
Anthony Valentino is from Washington Twp, NJ and is currently attending WVU for a bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering. Prior to that he was in the US Navy serving on the USS Kentucky and a nuclear training command in Saratoga Springs, NY. He joined SPOT because of his interest in space and to increase motivation for higher education in West Virginia.
Rae Stanley is a junior at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. She is studying physics and biology. She hopes to attend the University of Colorado, Boulder for a graduate degree in astrophysics.
Aaron Sealey is a Business Finance Major at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. He is from the small town of Marietta, Ohio, which is on the Ohio/West Virginia border. He works as a Resident Assistant at his University, competes in powerlifting competitions, and plans to attend graduate school at WVU after completion of his undergraduate.
Robert Wilson is an undergraduate Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student at West Virginia University. Robert was born in Wheeling, WV and began his education at WVU in 2014. He is involved with the WVU Experimental Rocketry Team and is researching microgravity effects on electrical components for human space-flight applications. Robert joined SPOT in 2014 for his interests in astronomy and physics and his want to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.
Adri Persad is from Shepherdstown, on the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. He's a third-year student of mechanical and aerospace engineering at West Virginia University, is involved in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and helped to write the SETI presentation! He once ate half a pizza in one sitting.
Dave Ward is from Hurricane,WV and currently studies Elementary Education at Marshall University. Dave is a nontraditional student finishing up his undergrad work. Knowledge is power. Education is the key to a better life. Reaching, engaging and including everyone is a focus of his; especially kids that have a hard time at school. Letting them know they do have gifts and ARE capable of doing anything they want to in life. Kids are going to be adults making big decisions, and he wants them to believe in themselves, to be confident and informed. Questions are very important.
Umer Rizwan is a senior at WVSU majoring in Biology, Umer has an interest in genomics and big data. His hobbies include making cheese, rearing killifish and writing science fiction for Nature Futures. He wrote a winning entry for the WVSU Annual Essay Contest, maintains a student website, wvsu.club and loves 3D printing models for teaching and outreach. As a student dedicated to improving STEM access, he is happy to visit schools close to Dunbar, WV to deliver presentations and conduct hands on activities as part of SPOT. His personal favorite presentations relate to water quality and space technology.
Madison Riffe is originally from Charleston, WV and is currently a sophomore at West Virginia University. She is studying secondary science education and hopes to teach biology and chemistry to public school students. She became a SPOT ambassador in the fall of 2015 and is excited to visit schools in West Virginia to share the things she has learned through SPOT with the scientists and educators of the future!
Conner Henson is a senior biophysics major and biology minor at Marshall University. He is from Barboursville, WV. His interests outside of academics are music, golf, and anything related to Subaru. He is active in the physics department at Marshall, participating in SPOT, SPACE, and the Society of Physics Students. He is hoping to continue in academics to pursue a PhD in medical physics next fall.
Mark Leadingham II is a junior math and physics double major at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He is from Sharpsburg, Maryland and plans to go on to study astrophysics at the graduate level. He is a SPOT ambassador, a member of the Pulsar Search Collaboratory, and just really loves those radio waves.
Derek Ross is a sophomore at West Virginia University who is currently studying mechanical and aerospace engineering. Derek is from York, Pennsylvania where he graduated from Red Lion Area High School in 2015. He originally came into the engineering program at WVU under petroleum and natural gas engineering but switched to aerospace due to his love for space. Derek has hopes to work for NASA someday and is currently working towards that goal.
Nick Zarilla is a senior at Marshall University who is majoring in Physics and Applied Math. He grew up in Ona, WV. His interests include music, robotics, and historical reenactment as well as historical combat. He is active in the Marshall University physics department, and a participant in SPOT, MU SPACE, and the Society of Physics Students. He hopes to continue to pursue a PhD after graduating in the spring.
Hayley Guyer is a Junior at West Virginia University. She is currently majoring in Geology and working on a Physics minor. She is from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She's also a member of the Geology club and she enjoys drawing and painting. She joined SPOT because she enjoys teaching kids about how awesome science is!
Ashley Lupo is from Metz, WV. She attended West Virginia University where she obtained a B.S. in Environmental Protection. She worked as an Environmental Scientist in Morgantown, WV for 3 years and decided she wanted to help encourage the youth of West Virginia to pursue science careers. She is now attending Graduate school at Fairmont State University where she is pursuing a degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Earth and Space Science and General Science. She enjoys taking time to explore nature and hopes to encourage students to explore the world around them.
Angela Meyer attends West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, WV. She majors in applied physics with two minors in mathematics and art. She enjoys crafts and volunteering at the animal shelter in her free time. She is the planetarium assistant at Wesleyan and is the president of the Student Art League and Space Club. Originally from Elkview, WV, she is familiar with the Charleston area.
Jayden Leonard is a freshman physics major at Marshall University but currently lives in Milton, W.V. He has attended Grace Christian School and Calvary Baptist Academy for 11 years and has also attended Milton Elementary his 5th grade year. He is especially interested in the fields of astronomy and relativity and is very eager to start educating other students about these and other scientific topics.
Elijah Roberts grew up in Man, WV. He was homeschooled for k-12, and now lives in Teays Valley attending West Virginia State University. Elijah studies biology, psychology, sports studies, and chemistry. He makes an effort to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible; He has worked as an English teacher in rural China, works as the Student Government Association President, plans gigantic fundraisers such a Relay for Life and international festivals, worked in a biology lab for three years, 并正在学习会中文。I chose to participate in SPOT because I want to spark an interest for science in the minds of k-12 students, and hopefully contribute to some considering a career in STEM. Great science can come from anyone.
Natasha McMann is a second degree student majoring in physics with a minor in astronomy at West Virginia University. She grew up in Pocahontas County and a little while after receiving her first bachelor's degree from Bluefield State College, she got a job in her home county as a tour guide at NRAO in Green Bank, WV. She fell in love with astronomy and this led her to return to school to pursue a career in it with the hopes of becoming an astrochemist someday. While at Green Bank, she developed a passion for public outreach and continues with this passion in college by being a part of SPOT and being the president of the WVU Astronomy Club. Natasha is certified on the Invisible Universe Presentation, a show that she helped write.
Nathan Tehrani is a senior at WVU, majoring in physics and biology. Nathan is originally from Morgantown, WV, and hopes to work for the space program to keep people healthy in space. "I'm certified to give both the Mars: Past, Present, and Future and Invisible Universe presentations. I got involved in SPOT because I love space, and I want to show everyone how cool it is!"
Ruth Williams is from Summersville, West Virginia. She is a senior at West Virginia University, majoring in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering. Ruth is part of WV SPOT to give back to her home state and share her love of space. "I love the look on a student's face when I'm giving a presentation and I can see them get excited about science! My favorite moment at a presentation was when a student asked me if I was an astronaut and if I'd been to Mars." In the future, Ruth hopes to work as an engineer in the aerospace/aviation industry.
Tamara WestfallHometown: Milton, WV
School: Marshall University (Huntington, WV)
Majors: Secondary Education- General Science
Career Aspirations: Teach Middle or High School Math or Science
"I chose to participate in the program to learn more techniques to inspire future generations. As a bonus, I learned additional fun activities that I can use in my own classroom as well."