Hannah Harris, Lord Botetourt High School’s 2019 Valedictorian, has just been named one of the University of Mary Washington’s 2023 Valedictorians, earning the Darden Award at the May 6 Commencement ceremony. She graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
A biochemistry and English literature double major from Troutville, Virginia, Harris is headed to medical school this fall, a path she plotted early in her UMW journey, through the Honors Program’s early selection agreement with The George Washington University School of Medicine. Her provisional acceptance two years ago gave her time to focus on her undergraduate studies and spark her academic creativity.
Her capstone honors project, supervised by Professor of English Eric Lorentzen, examined the scientific concept of entropy – the randomness and chaos of a system – as represented in British Victorian literature. She’s also completed four years of undergraduate research on the toxicity of plastic compounds in an ongoing project supervised by Associate Professor of Chemistry Davis Oldham, who calls Harris, “the most productive research student I have had at UMW… a brilliant scientist.”
Harris chaired the Honors Student Advisory Council, helped coordinate the trademarked City as Text program for incoming Honors students and worked on campus as a Washington Tour Guide. Off campus, she volunteered with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, during the height the pandemic, and with Mary Washington Hospital.
The first UMW student to earn the Virginias Collegiate Honors Council Scholar of the Year award, she was named Outstanding Major in English, earned departmental honors also in chemistry and received the Alumni Association Award for Outstanding UMW Senior. She also was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest honor society.