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WVU awards fellowships to Sport and Exercise Psychology students

WVU recently welcomed 29 new Fellows to the graduate student community. These first-year Fellows will begin building groundbreaking research projects once they arrive on campus this fall semester. Three CPASS graduate students also received Fellow awards.

Currently, more than 70 graduate students are attending WVU through one of seven highly competitive Fellowship programs. Stellar incoming PhD students, as well as other doctoral and MFA students, are nominated for these prestigious awards by program coordinators.

“From a program standpoint, it is wonderful to see our students receive such recognition from the WVU community. All students and faculty know the competitiveness of Fellowships around the university and it speaks to the strength of our students to receive these awards. Not only will these awards aid in the funding and research pursuits of Diane, Matt, and Jaxson, but they provide more funding opportunities and flexibility within CPASS for the rest of our graduate students,” said Scott Barnicle, program coordinator and teaching assistant professor, sport and exercise psychology.

“The entire sport and exercise psychology program looks forward to seeing the research outcomes these students can bring to WVU and we hope for continued success with Fellowships in future years,” Barnicle said.

Let’s meet the CPASS students who are included in this outstanding group.

Portrait of Dian Benish

Diane Benish

Hometown: Zelienople, PA

First-year doctoral student in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology.

“This fellowship significantly contributes to my success as a scholar by allowing me to prioritize the activities that will facilitate my academic and professional goals. Specifically, I can devote my time to further my personal research interests within coach-athlete relationships, collaborate with other students and faculty, provide psychological skill training to athletes and serve the WVU community.

My mentor at CPASS is Johannes Raabe. His commitment to encouraging a high standard of excellence while providing guidance in the area of athlete motivation and coach-created motivational climates complements my personal goals. I am looking forward to working with him for the next four years.

I chose CPASS at WVU to pursue my doctoral degree because of the opportunity to be supported and mentored by the most distinguished group of sport and exercise psychology faculty in the Northeast. Additionally, I valued the opportunity to concurrently complete coursework for a master’s in counseling as this will enhance the quality of services I can provide as a mental performance consultant.”  

Portrait of Matthew Gonzalez

Matthew Gonzalez

Hometown: Salida, CA

Third year doctoral student in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology.

“Being awarded with this fellowship will provide me with the opportunity to concentrate on completing my dissertation which, as a result, will help me enormously in the process of graduating from this program. 

It is near impossible to pick a single mentor in CPASS. In my three years here, there hasn't been a single professor in this building whose paths I've crossed with who has been unwilling to provide me with support and direction. However, I would like to specifically recognize Dr. Zizzi who has played a substantial role in my academic career over the past two years. He has been a seemingly unending source of patience, understanding and encouragement. I count myself as extremely lucky to have been under his guidance and mentorship.  

The Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology PhD program at WVU carries a significant reputation across the nation for being a first-rate program in our field. When I applied several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be admitted and I couldn't say no.” 

Portrait of Jaxson Judkins

Jaxson Judkins

Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT

First-year doctoral student in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology.

“As a first-year CPASS doctoral student, this Fellowship has given me the freedom to concentrate on my passion and immerse myself in my overall research pursuits. As I continue my journey, I believe that this award will greatly support my ambition to climb the research mountain and help others along the way.  

I wanted to surround myself with high performing people who desire to make an impact in the field. For that reason, I value the mentorship of Scott Barnicle based on his practical approach to sport psychology interventions and applying mental skills training to improve sport performance. 

I believe WVU CPASS offers an environment where I can make meaningful connections, strive to learn, and fulfill my personal goals. I am excited to make the most of this opportunity to be a part of West Virginia University.” 

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