Overcoming challenges and making the most of every opportunity is the way Mackenzie Hammack ’23 approaches life. She wants to excel in everything she does and not waste the chances she’s been given. An exceptional student, Hammack received the President’s Merit Award—a full tuition scholarship—from Bridgewater College, is a member of the Flory Honors Program and is finishing her undergraduate degree in only three years. On April 15, she received the Outstanding Senior in English award from the Department of English at the annual College Awards Ceremony.
Despite the end of high school and her first year at BC being dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, she came back to campus in fall 2021 determined to get involved in campus life. She joined BCVoice as a student journalist and became a tutor for the Writing Center.
“The Writing Center is where I found my purpose and identity on campus,” she says.
Ashley Lauro, Senior Instructor of English, also serves as Director of the Writing Center. She says, “Mackenzie is a highly effective writing tutor, and I often refer advanced writers to her for the high level of tutoring and thinking she can offer. She has a unique ability to bring any writer to a higher level of writing.”
In addition to a double major in English and professional writing, Hammack is completing a minor in American studies. She credits Professor of English Dr. Scott Suter for working closely with her on honors upgrades to courses and has cherished the opportunity to get to know all of the faculty in the Department of English. She says of Dr. Christian Sheridan, Associate Professor of English and Department Chair, that he “makes the hardest parts of studying English accessible” to his students.
For her honors project, she created a weekly email newsletter for BC Voice, “BCVoice Newsletter Creation and Evaluation,” which she presented at this spring’s A Celebration of the Arts, Scholarship, Performance, Innovation and Research Excellence (ASPIRE). She is also a Student Peer Research Consultant through the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons’ Library and Research Services, which she says has helped her hone her research skills and made her a better tutor.
When she isn’t taking an average of 17 credits a semester and working on campus, Hammack likes to create with her hands—crochet, embroidery, ceramics, quilting and stained glass. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, she set up a workshop in her garage at home and bought supplies so she could learn to make stained glass. Since then, she’s created numerous pieces by commission and finds the process involved yet fulfilling.
Although Hammack originally came to Bridgewater thinking about becoming a high school English teacher, she was inspired to pursue writing education after working in the Writing Center. She’s been accepted into James Madison University’s two-year master’s program in writing, rhetoric and technical communication. She hopes to eventually teach writing at a community college or be the director of a writing center much like Bridgewater’s.
Working at the Writing Center, she says, “also really helped me understand, not only what I want to do [with my career], but that I can do what I want to do. It helped me feel capable, that I can teach writing to other people.”
— By Olivia Shifflett