Graduate Spotlight: Mary Helene Hall

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Mary Helene Hall sits on the edge of a fountain
Mary Helene Hall. Photo by Katie Linkner

Mary Helene Hall, a Class of 2023 graduate of Mercer University‘s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and women’s and gender studies.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be an investigative reporter for AL.com. In my first year at the job, I will be a member of the 2023-24 cohort for the Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship.

Who was your favorite professor and why?

There are so many professors who made a positive impact on me at Mercer, but if I had to choose just one, it would be Debbie Blankenship, director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism. She has advocated for me even before day one at Mercer — I attended a summer camp in high school put on by the CCJ, and I was given the opportunity to attend with a scholarship. Throughout all of my triumphs and struggles at Mercer, she has been a great role model, listening ear and helping hand.

What is one of your favorite Mercer memories?

One day during my junior year in the spring, campus was practically buzzing with energy when the temperature was finally not too hot, not too cold, and the sun was out. I decided to join a few people on Cruz Plaza who were sitting on picnic blankets on the lawn, and within an hour, dozens of people followed our lead. People were throwing Frisbees, playing with their dogs, reading in the shade, laughing with their friends, and listening to music. Most people didn’t leave Cruz until the sun went down. It just made me so happy to see so many people collectively decide that it was too nice a day to not enjoy our beautiful campus.

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was fiber arts and culture, a women’s and gender studies class.

It’s taught each spring, and students from all different years and disciplines come together to learn about the fiber arts. On day one, students are taught how to knit, and those skills are used throughout the semester to knit objects for a charity. When I took the course, we knitted objects for newborn babies and their mothers for a local birth center. Time is also spent learning about fiber arts in different cultures, the industry and labor movements, gender roles in varying areas of fiber arts, the science behind fiber, and how to crochet, needle felt, dye fabric, spin yarn and more.

This year, I got to be on the other side as a teaching assistant for the class!

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Say yes. Take advantage of every opportunity that is offered to you. I’ve been afforded so many incredible experiences that I could never have imagined I’d have at Mercer.

Also, remember to take care of yourself. Getting caught up in academics, extracurriculars and social life is easy, but you’ll eventually fall behind in everything if you aren’t practicing self care. Cut yourself some slack every once in a while. Succeeding is so much easier when you aren’t falling behind on sleep.

How did Mercer prepare you for your future?

I chose to attend Mercer because of the Center for Collaborative Journalism’s partnerships among the Department of Journalism and Media Studies and local newsrooms. To excel in my field, I knew I needed real-world experience as soon as possible, and Mercer provided me with those opportunities. In my first semester, I started making connections with Georgia journalists, reporting for our campus news organization, The Cluster, and learning how to report in the community.

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