Mercer senior Hannah Vann will be awarded the Gulf-South Summit Award for Outstanding Student Contributions to Service-Learning in March at the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement through Higher Education in Athens. The Summit is the service-learning professional organization for the southeast region and includes schools such as Tulane University, Emory University and Mercer.
“The Gulf South Summit brings together teachers from the Southeast who integrate service to the community into undergraduate courses so that they can share creative ideas and best practices,” said Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service-learning. “Hannah will be honored because she embodies the ideals of the organization. As a student she combines original research and scholarship, service-learning and volunteerism, and a deep sense of civic responsibility to her local community and the global community.”
Vann is a women’s and gender studies major and president of Mercer’s Sex Trafficking Opposition Project, a student group dedicated to stamping out sex trafficking in the Macon area. The Summit will honor Vann for her work with STOP and a conference that she helped organize to cast a light on the problem. Vann assisted in contacting Tapestri, a non-profit based in Atlanta that works with immigrant women and helped to bring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to Macon during police raids of massage parlors, where they interviewed the women. As a result of those efforts, Dr. Morgan said, two trafficking victims were freed.
In the spring of 2009, Vann worked with Dr. Morgan in which the University sponsored a conference to raise awareness of trafficking. Vann served on the executive board for the conference, which drew more than 900 people.
“Hannah was central in every aspect of the conference,” Dr. Morgan said, “advocating for literature on both international and domestic trafficking to be integrated into all sections of Mercer’s First-Year Seminar program, successfully lobbying the student government for $18,000 toward the conference, conducting outreach to local churches and civic groups and marshalling a corps of student volunteers who worked the entire week of the conference.”
Vann hopes this recognition will inspire Mercer students to become more involved in service-learning projects. “I am very honored by the recognition and thrilled about the attention this brings to Mercer,” Vann said. “There are so many more Mercer students who deserve outside recognition, and I hope this will encourage them to go for it!”
Although she is preparing for graduation, Vann continues her work, Dr. Morgan said. “Currently, Hannah is conducting field research into the ways that race influences attitudes toward trafficking and she continues her church and civic outreach in order to create ‘hostile territory for trafficking’ in Georgia.”