As a middle school student in her small hometown of Richwood, WV, Quinn Raffo established a non-profit organization called Hunger Heroes, a backpack feeding program to insure Richwood children were fed during the summer when school meals were not available. For seven years she led this effort until coming to D&E as the recipient of a generous Leadership Scholarship in the fall of ’21.

Now 20, Quinn will be graduating from D&E this spring. Recently, she and I shared a wide-ranging discussion focusing on her D&E experience, her leadership development, and her future plans. She described her academic experience as exceptional. She gave a shout out to her advisor and favorite professor, Dr. Crystal Krause, who helped mold her career trajectory. Reflecting on her academic experience, she describes increased confidence both in herself and her leadership abilities. Quinn will be graduating with a major in Sustainability Studies and minors in Non-Profit Leadership and GIS Mapping.

Beyond the insights of the classroom, D&E made possible her experience as a NCAA athlete on the Cross-Country team, her leadership development as President of Greenworks, our sustainability club, her role as an orientation leader for new students, and an eye-opening summer internship in Washington D.C. in the office of U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito.

Growing up in a small Appalachian community, the diversity of the D&E student body was mentioned repeatedly as a treasured part of her college experience. The International students from across the globe that are now friends have expanded her horizons. Her sorority sisters from Phi Omega Mu are frequently seen sitting with her at the Caboose Café sipping coffee and savoring life. Her roommate for three years will be a “lifelong friend” says the soon-to-be alumnus. She credits her professors and classmates for their role in shaping the adult she has become.

As for the immediate future, she is pursuing a summer internship before heading to Florida in the fall where she has been accepted into the Disney College Program. Service through VISTA as well as graduate school are in her future. Ultimately, Quinn wants to be an integral part of a dynamic environmental non-profit making a difference in our world.

The middle schooler feeding her hometown peers has now experienced the transformational education of Davis & Elkins College with an emphasis on leadership. Her heart is set on service and her passion is to make a difference in our world. She has been trained to do just that, which gives me hope for the future.

I cannot conclude this column about Quinn without reflecting on how she came to D&E originally. As a top high school prospect, Quinn was looking at other WV colleges. Her mother and my wife, acquainted through their employment, were chatting on the phone one day and Quinn’s college came up in conversation. Lisa asked if Quinn had considered D&E, and her mom said the words that have haunted me ever since. She said, “No, she hasn’t. We forgot about you.” For the past three years we have been heavily marketing ourselves in our home state to remedy that issue. Today in Richwood, Quinn’s high school sister is actively considering a gem of a college in West Virginia…Davis & Elkins. Forgotten no more, the secret is out.

The journey continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College