Andrew Marvin
Student Spotlight

Gold and Blue Make Jade

How the Chambers College gave one student the tools to strive, overcome, and soon, lead.

◆ 5 minute read

Gold and Blue Make Jade

Beyond Business

It’s not often that you see a student email with a signature like Jade Porter’s:

Alpha Flight Deputy Commander
915th Cadet Wing
West Virginia University
John Chambers College of Business and Economics

The order is important. For Porter, service comes first.

“I always wanted to join the military,” said Porter, whose parents are both Navy veterans. “I knew that was a path I wanted to take, but I didn’t think I was going to take it so soon.”

Born and raised in Germantown, Maryland, Porter came to WVU in the fall of 2019. Since then, she’s joined the Air Force, completed basic training and helped to settle Afghan refugees. Along the way, she’s been forced to pause and restart her college education multiple times.

“I came here in 2019, and Covid happened,” Porter said. “Last year (2022-2023) was my first full year at WVU.”

Photo of Jade Porter, in uniform, using her laptop in Reynolds Hall

Now entering her senior year, Porter is taking stock. Part of that means reflecting on all she’s done. Part of it means looking ahead to everything she’s going to do.

Through all her challenges, she’s found support, inspiration and a community at her soon-to-be alma mater. Her path to graduation may not have been conventional – but there are no conventional students at the Chambers College.

Getting Off the Ground

Every journey begins at home. Porter’s was no exception – but like a true Mountaineer, she was going first.

“I’m a first-generation student,” Porter said. “I wanted to break the glass ceiling and be the first woman in my family to go to college.

“I thought doing ROTC at WVU before enlisting was a great way to balance my studies as well as accomplishing my goal.”

She joined the AFROTC (Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program in her freshman year, but her studies were soon interrupted by Covid. Only halfway through her second semester, Porter was forced to return home.

“I decided not to go back to WVU immediately since I needed money for school. I thought, ‘If I’m going to enlist after I graduate, I might as well join now with the benefits I can get.’

“That November I ended up going to boot camp in Texas. I came back in 2021, was here for two months, and got temporarily deployed to New Jersey.”

There's such a diverse staff here that at the end of the day, there'll always be someone who can help you out.

- Jade Porter

It was a shock. Porter was only given 20 days’ notice to begin her assignment. At first, it seemed like she’d have to pause her college education for the second time in three years.

But help arrived in the form of a Chambers College advisor, a veteran who understood Porter’s experience and who ensured she would have access to remote classes while she continued to serve.

“That was so amazing,” said Porter. “There’s such a diverse staff here that at the end of the day, there’ll always be someone who can help you out.”

While she continued to take classes from New Jersey, Porter had one of the formative experiences of her young life: helping to settle Afghan refugees.

“Some of them had never seen a dentist or been to a doctor. We were accommodating them as they came to the U.S. after this great trauma. It was surreal to be involved with something like that at such a young age – I was only 20 when that happened.

“Service means fighting through adversity and putting other people’s’ needs above yours. Selflessness is a big part of it – you need to look at the bigger picture.”

Jade Porter in uniform, with other military personnel

Finally, after two interrupted years, with newfound financial security and more life experience under her belt, Porter returned to WVU for her first full year.

“My experience as a first-generation student has been tough,” Porter said, “I was supposed to graduate last year, technically, but because of my military service I wasn’t able to. WVU really worked with me to make sure I was still getting credit for my classes while I worked full-time for the military.”

It’s been a long and difficult process just getting to her senior year. In business, however, very little is easy: Chambers students come from all walks of life, and the college meets them where they are.

“It’s cool to see other first-generation people who have been successful in Chambers!” said Porter. “I’ve had a multitude of first-generation professors who have really built themselves from the ground up. Seeing someone who’s teaching a class of 200 people say that they were a first-generation student too is amazing.”

Where Contrails Connect

When you think of the places business skills can be applied, the military probably doesn't come to mind. Porter, a marketing major, feels differently.

“I think you can take anything you learn and apply it somewhere else,” Porter said.

"Once you get into those upper-level marketing classes, you’re giving a lot of presentations in front of people you’ve never talked to. For Air Force ROTC, I have to give presentations in front of Air Force captains, which is definitely scary – but the marketing program pushes me into places where I'm out of my element, and that’s made me better with public speaking.”

In the Air Force, as in the business world, the unforeseen can strike at any moment. A business education prepares students to handle those difficult situations, training them to stay on their toes and react quickly.

But there’s no one type of business student, no template. To thrive, students need a place where they can feel comfortable, no matter who they are. In other words, they need a community.

That community is what Porter has found at Chambers, and it’s what she’s taking with her.

Jade Porter crossing a log for military training

“At Chambers, you’re made to feel comfortable in your own skin,” she said. “This place has given me an opportunity to find out who I am.

“I love talking to people. I love the social aspect of marketing, figuring out how companies and brands connect to target markets. What’s awesome about our business programs in general is that you can do so many things with them.

“Taking those skills to build a community – maybe building a women’s association at WVU, or as a superior officer making sure that others have a comfortable working space, to work to the best of their abilities – I think that’s the most important thing. Having a sense of community wherever you work and learn will help you do better.”

Chambers gives you so many tools to succeed that you almost have to.

- Jade Porter

Doing better is important to Porter. It’s important in the military. It’s important no matter what you do, whether it's on the ground or in the air, and when her time at WVU is over, Porter will have the skills she needs to help everyone around her do better too.

“Chambers gives you so many tools to succeed that you almost have to. I recently took BCOR 299 and the Becker AeSC was a big help for me – if I wanted to go to someone my age, who I could look at as a mentor, the Neidermeyer Scholars were right there. This place prepared me for a job where preparation is necessary.”


A uniform can be anything. For some people it’s a suit and tie. For others, it’s jeans and work boots.

Porter’s uniform consists of Operational Camouflage Pattern trousers, shirt and cap, coyote brown combat boots, undershirt, socks and belt (with a black buckle), not to mention patches on both shoulders and the nametapes and rank on her blouse. It’s a little more complicated than business casual.

But Porter’s used to complications. She’s taken them on head-first and continued to thrive.

The Mountaineer spirit is about having pride in who you are and what you do.

- Jade Porter

“My short-term goals are to graduate from WVU, go into the Air Force and become an officer,” said Porter, who's projected to commission as a 2nd Lieutenant after her graduation. “I’m hoping to do 20 years – and after that, the possibilities are endless.”

The destination may not be certain – and the way there even less so – but Porter has a bearing. What’s more, she has grit. She has determination. She has the things that make Mountaineers who they are.

And that makes her part of something special.

“The Mountaineer spirit is about having pride in who you are and what you do. Being here, with all WVU offers, having a sense of community is a huge motivation. There’s no way you won’t find one.”