For Senior Hannah Murphy, education and teaching have always been among her top interests.
Born in Annapolis, Hannah grew up in Owings, Maryland after her family moved there when she was in the third grade. Foreshadowing her later interests, she took Spanish all throughout high school, reaching the AP level.
When it came time to pick a college, Hannah looked to smaller liberal arts schools and those with historical settings including Hood College and the College of William & Mary, as well as St. Mary’s. While there were many factors that influenced her decision – including the MAT program, scholarship funds, and the fact that SMCM was her grandfather’s favorite out of all the colleges she visited – what sealed Hannah’s decision to come to St. Mary’s was the great experience she had spending a night here as a prospective student. And on top of that the beautiful waterfront setting didn’t hurt. “Can’t discount pretty,” Hannah says.
Hannah began working in the Archives the fall of her Junior year. The previous summer, she had interned at the Calvert Marine Museum sorting, cataloging, and scanning photos and negatives. She really enjoyed working with the staff there as well as the general atmosphere and was looking for an additional on campus job when she saw the Professional Fellowship Program position open up in the Archives. Her job duties range from sorting and cataloging incoming materials, to cataloging the images on the college’s Flickr site, to assisting Archivist Kent Randell with research about the college. Her favorite thing about working in the Archives is helping to preserve the history and make it accessible to the community, now and in the future. Through working at the Archives, she has gained quite a bit of knowledge about the history of St. Mary’s, which came in handy when a visiting parent asked her questions about the college.
In addition to her job in the Archives, Hannah worked as an RA in Queen Anne and Caroline residence halls, and is currently the RHC for Waring Commons where she oversees a staff of seven RAs and serves as liaison between the students, RAs, and the Office of Residence Life. Through working as an RA and RHC, she has had to mediate quite a few roommate disagreements, mostly over things like room temperature and lights.
She also spent the Spring semester of her Junior year studying abroad in Granada, Spain. Hannah highly recommends study abroad, saying it’s “awesome and everyone should do it.” She really enjoyed living in a Spanish speaking country for a few months totally immersed in the language and culture.
As a Spanish major with minors in Ed Studies and History, Hannah will be entering the SMCM MAT program in the summer, focusing on becoming a middle or high school Spanish teacher (she just passed her Spanish Praxis exam!). Her interests in Spanish and Ed Studies led her to focus her SMP work on English Learners, a group that doesn’t necessarily get the resources it needs. Her SMP looks at addressing critical thinking skills among English Learners. Her project is based on the Common Underlying Proficiency theory – which posits that cognitively demanding tasks (like critical thinking) are common across languages, despite the surface differences between languages that we observe. Using this theory, Hannah developed a Spanish Enrichment program at Spring Ridge Middle School that helped five English Learners address critical thinking skills, such as identifying the main idea in a text, by reading articles in their home language. Hannah believes that the home language should be seen as a resource when gaining these critical thinking skills, which are more important for the students to grasp than learning them in English. By the end of the six week program, the students showed greater proficiency in learning these critical thinking skills and were able to identify the main ideas in a text.
Hannah will be presenting her work at the 2018 National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Oklahoma City, and hopes to continue this project through her MAT master’s thesis in addition to possibly working with Dr. Katy Arnett to continue the program with St. Mary’s students through the Spanish department or the course ESL Across the Curriculum (EDUC 491). She is also considering getting certified as an English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher. Post SMCM MAT program, Hannah hopes to work in Frederick County, Maryland which has a quickly growing Latinx population.