Hello, Friends of Blackwater supporters. My name is Alicia Erjavec and I have been raised in West Virginia almost my entire life. I grew up in Clarksburg and graduated from Robert C. Byrd High School in 2015. I also graduated from Fairmont State University this past December with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Folklore Studies.
While I was at Fairmont State, in a credit-hour class pertaining to my minor, I had the opportunity to work on something called the Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP), which is an applied research training program for college students in Appalachia to design economic development initiatives for their communities. The goal was to design and lead research projects in Appalachian communities in order to address the challenges that are currently going on in their respected region.
I had the pleasure of working with our supervisors, Lynette Swiger of Fairmont State and Connie Boggs of Monongha Elementary, along with two other students, Christina Satterfield and Garret Wilson, learning about the surrounding coal towns of Marion County and the tri-state area. Alongside the coal towns, we also had the pleasure of learning about the rail trail that goes through Fairmont to other parts of West Virginia, most of which is the P2P Connection. At the end of the course, we traveled to Washington D.C. for a weekend press conference, presenting our work to other student delegations, the leaders of the ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission), and the community leaders of the ATP Capstone Symposium.
Outside of that, I am a very reclusive person. I’m a little shy at first, but can be very open and friendly to others when given a chance. I tend to spend most of my day either writing stories for fun (or for my future novel) and playing video games.
The opportunity to work for Friends of Blackwater came through my old advisor of mine at Fairmont State, and seeing that it was very similar to what I did for the ATP, I couldn’t pass up the chance to work. It is a daunting thing, but I am happy to be able to continue making a difference for the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia.