When Ellis Roper heard his name announced at Milan Puskar Stadium at halftime of the WVU-TCU game on November 1, a wave of emotion swept over him. And for good reason.
The 21-year-old Human Resources Management student had been named Mr. Mountaineer, the culmination of the annual celebration of West Virginia’s rich Appalachian heritage and traditions that is Mountaineer Week.
Roper is the first African American student to be named Mr. Mountaineer in WVU history. But his happiness also stems from the reason he pursued the Mr. Mountaineer competition: he felt it would reflect everything he’s done at WVU.
“I felt it was the perfect opportunity for me to showcase everything I’ve done in my four years at WVU,” said the senior from Charles Town, West Virginia. “I’ve been active in the classroom, on campus and in my community. To win is one of my biggest accomplishments at WVU and in my life.”
Roper is president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., co-director of the WVU Paul Robeson/Mahalia Jackson Gospel Choir and a student diversity ambassador for WVU’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He has been a finalist for the WVU NAACP Image Awards “Rising Star” Student of the Year and, as a student member of WVU’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), is a member of this year’s undergraduate SHRM Regional Case Study competition. He was sponsored in Mr. Mountaineer by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Pi Mu chapter.
“It’s great to be representing the College of Business and Economics as Mr. Mountaineer,” he said. Upon graduation in May, his plan is to enroll in B&E’s renowned Master of Science in Human Resources and Industrial Relations (MSIR) program.
“My parents were there, and they were very excited and proud,” he said. “They were just so happy I was a finalist, so when I won there was a great deal of excitement.”
Roper was crowned along with Ms. Mountaineer Elizabeth Gulick, an elementary education master’s student with a concentration in special education and mathematics for grades five through nine. Mountaineer Week commemorated its 67th year in 2014.