The Student Stowe Prize was the first recognition I received for writing about homelessness and social justice issues. Growing up in Baltimore, I went to school with children on both ends of the income bracket- I learned from a young age how difficult life could be if you were born into a family who struggled with health problems and financial problems.
I lived in College Park, Maryland, and studied journalism at the University of Maryland. One of my first internships was writing for Street Sense, a weekly newspaper in Washington, D.C. that focused on social justice and issues facing the city's homeless population. I worked out in the streets, talked to homeless veterans and mothers, spent days inside shelters watching women my age wait in line to obtain winter coats and a hot meal. This experience transformed the way I looked at the nation's capitol, and I learned I could use my passion for writing to tell the stories of people who slept under bridges and on benches, just blocks from the White House.
I was awarded the Stowe Prize in 2012 after my semester at Street Sense. The honor gave me the motivation to continue writing and sharing the stories of people who struggle in our society.
I graduated from Maryland in December 2012 and spent the summer interning at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I enjoyed learning about a new city, and was offered a reporting job at the end of the summer at a small paper just north of the city.
For the last seven months, I worked as an education reporter for the Marietta Daily Journal, and often found myself covering other stories and breaking news as was necessary at the paper. Many of the issues I had seen people struggle with up north were present in Georgia, and I used my experience to write about many of these problems. I spent Thanksgiving at a homeless shelter, speaking with dozens of homeless veterans who claimed they weren't being given necessary medical benefits. On Christmas, I sat with a mother desperate to find shelter for her two daughters for the night. When the temperatures dropped unusually low this winter, I worked with homeless shelters across the county to compile a list of resources for families in need of shelter and warm clothing.
If it wasn't for the Stowe Prize I would have never gained the confidence to pursue these stories.
I left the Marietta Daily Journal in March 2014 and am now preparing to move to Togo, west Africa, for 27 months to work with the Peace Corps. I have always wanted to work with the Peace Corps and am honored to have been invited to work with some of the world's poorest people in west Africa. I will be posting my experiences on a blog once I move to Togo, and am eager to continue working and telling the stories of people across the world.
Thank you, Stowe Center, for your investment in me. I hope to continue learning and writing about the world and sharing my work with you all!
- Hannah Morgan