New assistant professor Laura Hakala enjoyed her undergrad history courses but was also drawn to the study of English by the power of storytelling. Then, she discovered an even more powerful benefit of studying literature: it can help us understand different time periods and different viewpoints, making us more empathetic people.
Still influenced by her love of history, Laura hopes that through her teaching students will appreciate the development of ideas and cultural movements; in reading early American works, for example, she wants students to connect those texts with what it means to be “American.” As a student, Laura particularly enjoyed the opportunity to read children’s or young adult works again, viewing them through an academic lens. Children’s reading has great power, she thinks, with the potential to teach either empowering or harmful ideas.
Laura is originally from Jacksonville, Florida, and has degrees in English from Jacksonville University, Georgia Southern, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Here in Pembroke, she is getting settled in and appreciates how helpful her new colleagues have been. When she’s not working, Laura does yoga, hangs out with her dog, goes hiking — and admits to the occasional Netflix fix (and to not particularly liking Moby Dick). She is looking for an agent for a novel manuscript and starting work on a second. Her fun reading right now includes southern women writers (Jesmyn Ward, Minrose Gwin, Harper Lee, Lee Smith, and Sue Monk Kidd) or YA novels, particularly those of Laurie Halse Anderson and Elizabeth Wein.
We are happy to welcome Laura to UNCP and look forward to working with her as a fellow Brave!