Class of 2024: Hannah Ward Says Yes to Opportunity 

Posted on April 29, 2024

Hannah Ward poses in a cap and gown out side of the Lloyd International Honors College

Stepping onto campus as a first-year student and Teacher Education Fellow, Hannah Ward had a mission: make her hometown of Morganton, North Carolina proud and major in music. Through her fellowship and the Lloyd International Honors College (LIHC), Ward soon encountered mentors, opportunities, and experiences that took her down paths she had not considered and helped her discover her true calling: teaching English. 

“I’m 100 percent ready to teach,” Ward says. “I love it so much.” 

On the job – early 

Early in her time at UNC Greensboro, Ward was pursuing a degree in music but realized she was more interested in the stories that people tell in songs than the music behind them. With the encouragement of her mentors, she switched her major to English. 

“As a Teacher Education Fellow, I took an extra teaching internship in an online English classroom and I loved it,” she says.  

This May, Ward will earn her bachelor of arts in English, secondary education. The program, offered dually by the Department of English and the School of Education, fully prepares students to teach high school English and graduate with a teaching license.  

As a Teacher Education Fellow, Ward has the added advantage of on-the-job experience that started her first year at UNCG. 

“I’ve been in classrooms since day one, which is two years earlier than most other education majors,” Ward explains. “I am a student teacher right now at Southeast Guilford High School and I love it. I love my classroom, I love my kids, I love planning instruction. It’s something that is very important for me to do.” 

Ward was one of 12 fellows in her cohort. The fellowship is a community of like-minded pre-service teachers who engage in teaching-related activities designed to develop and enhance their leadership abilities, commitment to the campus and broader community, and awareness of socio-cultural considerations from the individual to the global scale. In addition to early access to internships, Teacher Education Fellows each receive $20,000 in scholarship funds over four years. In addition, they attended weekly seminars to collaborate and share ideas on what they learned in the field and participate in the Spartan Leadership Challenge to build experience in organization, service, and leadership. 

“The 12 of us became a really close-knit cohort,” Ward says. “There were people who always wanted to see me succeed. People who were interested in what I was doing and wanted to help me out.” 

Hannah Ward shows her Teaching Fellows sash

Literary torture 

In the summer of 2022, Ward received a Smiley Award and served as a Global Education Ambassador for UNCG.  

During the faculty-led program to London, Ward broadened her intercultural perspective and found herself taking an unexpected academic path. 

“We had classes in the morning and spent the afternoons at historical sites like author’s houses and the Tower of London,” Ward says. “I began a research paper thinking I would explore feminist figures in medieval and Victorian history, but I discovered in the research that women were executed much more often compared to men. Then I took a deep dive into the different torture methods.” 

Ward’s final project for the study abroad program focuses on executions at the Tower of London. She researched literary representations of torture methods, classism, and the entertainment value of public executions. This spring, she presented that research at the Southern Regional Honors Council conference in Jacksonville Florida.  

Unexpected new skills 

As a student in the LIHC, Ward found another supportive community.  

“It is so different from other honors colleges. It’s not just taking classes, it’s a culture that encourages having debates over issues, student-led discussions, and bringing our own ideas rather than following a set curriculum,” Ward says. 

Ward served as an ambassador for LIHC, helping other students adjust to UNCG and the honors college. She also received a Pubantz Artists in Residence award during which she wrote a novella. 

“I really like the idea of retold stories, so I analyzed structural theory of fairytales and the common elements in fairy tales across cultures, and how to translate those elements to a young adult retold fairytale genre,” Ward says. “I studied many cultural versions of “Cinderella,” and then I wrote my own short version called ‘The Shoemaker.’” 

With the stipend she was awarded, Ward took a class on hand binding books. “I learned different bookbinding techniques and about cover design and typography,” Ward says. “I wrote my book, designed my own cover, the typography inside, and hand-bound a few copies to keep.” 

A Storybook Ending 

As Ward crosses the stage at Commencement, she will do so knowing she took advantage of every opportunity in her reach at UNCG. While she is still awaiting a teaching assignment, she knows that she found her calling to be a classroom teacher. Ward credits her community at UNCG with helping her define her goals and purpose. 

“There are so many things I got to do that made my college experience pretty special,” Ward says. “I am still in contact with all my mentors from both the Teaching Education Fellows program and LIHC. I know I am going to continue those relationships as I move into a professional career.” 

Story by Alice Manning Touchette 
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications 


Graduate: May 2 at the Greensboro Coliseum
Undergraduate: May 3 at the Greensboro Coliseum

Graduates and their families are encouraged to share their accomplishments on social media by tagging the University accounts and using the hashtags #UNCGGrad and #UNCGWay. Visit UNCG’s digital swag page for graduation-themed graphics, filters, and templates.

Mention @UNCG in celebratory posts on Instagram and X and @uncgreensboro on TikTok.  

Three masters graduates pose for a selfie in cap and gown.


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