Local woman’s pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong passion

Anna Hawley.
Photo provided.

Originally published Jan.4, 2010.

Passion. Commitment. Motivation.

Those are the words Huntington native Anna Hawley used to describe her quest for knowledge and learning.

A recent graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene University, in Mount Vernon, OH, Hawley graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology. Among her collegiate accolades is the fact that she made the Dean's List every semester, maintained a 4.0 GPA (grade point average), was inducted into Alpha Chi and Phi Delta Lambda honor societies, was included in Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities and served as University Marshall at her commencement ceremonies.

In addition to all that, Hawley has earned straight A's since kindergarten.

"I've also enjoyed school and learning," she states. "I never really thought about grades until middle school and even then I wasn't focused on getting all A's. I just wanted to do my best."

After straight A's through middle school, though, Hawley says she made it a personal challenge to excel though high school to maintain the streak.

"I made it a point to make sure that I was proud of whatever I had to do, as it was a reflection of the time I spent preparing for the assignment as well as my personal character," she says. "It simply came down to a matter of time management."

Although there are many distractions in high school, including the pressure to stay socially current and hang out with friends, Hawley says that a balance can be found, without compromising on academics.

"It also helps if you have a passion for the subject matter and are naturally motivated to do your best," she adds.

Hawley says her field of study, psychology and sociology, is broad and includes something that is applicable in almost every situation.

"I was hooked from the beginning courses," she states. "I also liked the fact that it incorporated theory in the classroom with hands-on application as well."

During her time in college, Hawley was selected to serve as the Psychology Department assistant, junior/senior representative of Mount Vernon's Psychology Club and supplemental instructor in psychology through the Academic Support Office. She is also a student affiliate with the Ohio Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association.

Internships and other in-field work include interning with a clinical/forensic psychologist and training to be a client advocate for a pregnancy care center.

"I liked the fact that I was able to work with others and not just be in the classroom all the time," Hawley says. "The hands-on and research part of the field is the fun stuff."

Her passion for working with others led her to volunteer with the "Remember Nhu" organization, which works to fight global human trafficking. She also spent two months in Scotland with Youth in Mission.

Long-term career goals for Hawley include earning her master's degree and PhD in clinical psychology and one day becoming a college professor.

"The supplemental teaching experience gave me a love for teaching and I would love to share that with others," she states. "I also would like to have a private practice, specializing in marriage and family counseling."

Hawley says she has applied to 14 graduate schools, as close as Indiana University Bloomington and as far away as the University of Stony Brook, in New York. Other schools include the University of Bowling Green, Ohio; University of Oregon and the University of Denver, in Colorado.

She expects to receive word on acceptance this month.
All the programs start in the fall, but until then Hawley says she will remain busy.

She will be traveling to Washington, D.C. with a research team from Mount Vernon, to interview social workers working with the homeless.

"Our study will be a positive one, with questions focusing on why they chose to work with the homeless and the motivation that keeps them working in that particular field," states Hawley.

Hawley also plans to travel to Belize with a mission team to work with students in Nazarene school and present a psychology research paper to the Society for the Study of Psychology and Wesleyan Theology.

She had previously presented a research poster at the 2009 Ohio Psychological Association Convention as well as the Cleveland Psychological Association.

"The experiences and knowledge I have gained will definitely help me in the professional arena," Hawley states.

She believes that it is important that students start thinking about their career paths early.

"It's not about getting straight A's, as I thought it would be extremely hard if not impossible to do so in college," Hawley states. "It's more about being proactive in the learning experience, working hard and finding something you enjoy and can see yourself doing long-term. In high school, it also helps to take AP classes to give yourself a head start on college as well as look out for other opportunities to advance yourself as much as you possibly can."

Hawley is the daughter of Richard and Rebecca Hawley, of Huntington.