Imagine being summoned to the dean's office two weeks before graduation. Thoughts of not graduating flooded the mind of Hannah McLaughlin when she received just such a request. To her surprise, she was presented with the Lucius Lamar McMullan Award: $20,000 to spend as she chooses.
McLaughlin, a double major in English/creative writing and medieval and renaissance studies, hopes to invest the money while she attends the University of York in England next year through a Rotary fellowship for graduate work in medieval studies. McLaughlin plans to teach at the college level after completing graduate work in English as well, but would like to finish a collection of short stories and work in some capacity with labor unions before doing so.
"I've spent my college career totally focused on myself and my goals, so I'd like to turn my attention toward doing something for others," says McLaughlin. "Having grown up in a working-class environment, I see the mistrust many workers have of unionsalmost as strong as toward managementand I'd like to learn more about unions from the inside. I'm also interested in doing something with an assistance program for migrant workers, so I may spend some time with each."
The award, endowed by Emory alumnus William L. Matheson in honor of his uncle, is given to a graduating senior who exhibits "outstanding citizenship, exceptional leadership and potential for service to his or her community, the nation and the world."
Creative writing professor Lynna Williams praised McLaughlin's academic and leadership record at Emory, but has been most impressed by McLaughlin's advanced ability, at this stage of her development, to bring the writer's vision to the page.
"It takes some writers all their lives to do what Hannah has done in the last two years," said Williams. "She has moved from beautifully written stories that were, in a way, beside the point, to beautifully written stories that are true to her sense of the world."
In addition to achieving an outstanding academic record, McLaughlin served as editor-in-chief of Lullwater Review, a member of the Emory Women's Center advisory board, a judge of four national fiction and poetry contests and a peer tutor in the Writing Center.
Return to May 19, 1997 Contents Page