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Petroleum and natural gas student receives Leah Berhanu Memorial Award

Torey Wright with his award in front of The Thrasher Group building

Pictured is petroleum and natural gas student Torey Wright. (The Thrasher Group)

Torey Wright, a sophomore petroleum and natural gas major and Arabic studies minor, has been awarded the 2019 Leah Berhanu Memorial Award by The Thrasher Group.


The award honors Leah Berhanu, a civil engineering student at West Virginia University and Thrasher Group intern, who was tragically killed in an auto-pedestrian accident on February 1, 2018.

“Leah was an intern with Thrasher and her characteristics were just unique,” Wright said. He recalls her sorority passing out wristbands in her honor shortly after the accident that read, ‘Mountaineers take care of Mountaineers’ on one side and ‘Leah’s Legacy’ on the other.

“I would have loved to have met her, I feel like we would’ve crossed paths eventually. For me to be told that I have the same characteristics as someone as amazing as that, there’s no way you can’t meet someone like that,” he said. “It meant everything to me.”

Wright received the award at the Leah Berhanu Memorial luncheon held by The Thrasher Group. The event hosted Thrasher’s summer interns and Berhanu’s family. The award was based on an essay and presentation given by the interns. Wright earned $1,000 for the award, which he applied to his tuition costs.

An Atlanta, Georgia, native, Wright first traveled from his then home, the United Arab Emirates, to WVU’s campus on a fieldtrip with his baseball team. It was during this visit that he fell in love with the campus and realized that he wanted to become a Mountaineer in the future.

“I always knew that I wanted to be an engineer and WVU seemed to be the right fit,” he said.

During summer 2019, Wright served as a utility division intern in the oil and gas division for The Thrasher Group where he worked under project manager Tom Marion.

“There are a lot of things that you learn in an internship that you don’t learn in the classroom,” said Wright. “I think that internship was very, very beneficial to me.”

Throughout his internship Wright traveled with his peers to field sites across West Virginia and was exposed the daily life of an engineer.

“I think getting to meet everybody was my favorite part. Just making those connections. Getting to meet everybody and being in a positive work place. I think that was the most important thing for me.” Wright said.

Wright is also a student assistant at the Engineering Learning Center for freshman engineers. In the future he hopes to pursue graduate education and eventually serve as a project manager.



CONTACT: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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Phone: 304-293-4135