Hannah Scott’s eyes light up a bit when she talks about the parts of Olivet College’s history that most interest her. As an intern in the Olivet College Archives, she has the privilege of digging through, cataloging and reporting on some of the college’s oldest and most precious photographs, publications and files. “From a writing perspective,” she says, “I’ve come across some beautiful speeches and op-eds and things – moments that have literally made me stop what I’m doing and transcribe it all because I get so excited about it. The way people spoke back then, even in editorials or guest columns, was so eloquent – especially in the 1910s – you can really see the emphasis on written training.”
As the designated writer for the archives, it’s clear to see Hannah has found her niche at Olivet College. And if archival work seems like a natural fit for her, it may be because she has her own unique history with OC. A third generation Olivetian, Hannah’s father, Robert ’85, and grandparents Andrea ’46 and Charles R. ’47 Scott, also attended the college. “My grandparents met here through the music department,” she said. “They got married, and my grandma lived in Dole Hall while my grandpa was in the war. They always remained very connected to Olivet.”
It was fitting then, that the journalism and mass communication (JMC) major follow in the family’s footsteps. Hannah started her college career studying engineering at Purdue University in 2010. “I found out the hard way that it wasn’t for me,” she said. “I came back to Michigan in 2012 not sure about what I wanted to do, and my grandma pointed out that Olivet College offers the Copps Poetry Prize. She knew I liked to write, and contests like this were something I participated in avidly in high school. So I submitted to the contest, and just started poking around Olivet’s website. I saw that the college offered degree programs in writing, English and journalism, things I was veering toward. I thought, ‘Maybe this is a better fit I hadn’t thought of.’ I was interested enough to make a visit, and from there it was solidified that I wanted to go here and study journalism.”
Seeing her Byline in Print
Hannah will graduate in December 2015 as an already-published writer. Her long-form article, “The Search for Olivet College’s first African-American and Female Graduates,” was featured in the Historical Society of Michigan (HSM) Chronicle during the summer, and she has already been asked by the society to take on additional freelance projects. In fact, it is this original project that led Hannah to her internship with the archives in the first place.
In 2014, the HSM had approached Nikki Magie, Ph.D., archivist and assistant professor of social science, about getting the college involved in contributing an article for the Chronicle’s “History Revealed” section. Magie saw it as the perfect opportunity to enlist a student from the JMC program, so she contacted Joanne Williams, associate professor of journalism and mass communication, about the idea.
“I had a passing interest in history, watching documentaries and reading books and things like that,” Hannah said. “But Joanne came to me last fall and said the archives needed a writer, and she thought I would be well suited for the job. I met with Nikki and she described the project to me a little more. I thought it sounded really interesting, so I signed on.”
Hannah spent the first few months of her work poring over boxes of files and photos, and writing profiles on some of Olivet College’s most influential people. “I’ve written articles about the great music professor Pedro Paz, Oramel Hosford who was one of the college’s founders, and President Joseph Brewer,” she said. “I’m going to start a bigger project on Hiram Archer, one of the college’s first minority student-athletes, who is turning out to be a pretty fascinating person.”
Pursuing her Passion
With the OC Archives in the early stages of cataloging its vast inventory of information, Hannah will have no shortage of writing material between now and graduation. Writing is what she loves, and now that she has found her passion, she is envisioning a career in the discipline.
“Six months ago, I would have said that I want to work in a communications office, either in the private sector or for the state,” she said. “But as a result of the archival work and having my article come out, I would say I want to work anywhere that involves a lot of writing and editing. I just want to be writing no matter what I do.”