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HCHS graduate honored by University of Kentucky

Former Harlan County High School valedictorian Sierra Hatfield, a soon to be University of Kentucky graduate, was honored at the university’s 2019 Vandenbosch Awards Banquet in the Department of Political Science.

Hatfield, who will graduate summa cum laude in May, received the Crum Outstanding Undergraduate Paper Award and the Political Science Alumni Outstanding Senior Award.

The Crum award recognizes outstanding papers written by undergraduate students majoring in political science. In addition to substance, criteria for evaluation include clarity and style of expository prose, analytical sophistication and conceptual innovativeness. Hatfield’s winning thesis, “The Potential Electoral Influence of Internet Memes,” asked which aspects of an image macro meme would influence a young voter, and what kind of young voter could be influenced.

The Outstanding Senior Award is given to graduating seniors who best exemplify the qualities associated with political science alumni including original research, academic excellence, political and governmental engagement, leadership, and service. “I never really expected to win the Outstanding Senior Award,” said Hatfield. “There are so many great students in the Poli Sci department doing big things. I was very honored.”

“Sierra stood out among the students we interviewed for excelling in so many different categories of performance: grades, professional internships, extracurricular leadership, and especially scientific research,” said Dr. Stephen Voss, Hatfield’s faculty mentor.

Hatfield is the daughter of Michael and Sabrina Hatfield, of Cumberland.