Peace Corps or grad school?
Hafner Buchanan’s mother, brother and sister all graduated from LaGrange College, and now the senior English major is making her own mark on the Hill.
“Most of my friends may not realize that when I came here I was pretty shy,” Hafner says. “When I first got here, I pretty much kept to myself. Now they say, ‘Oh my gosh, here comes Hafner. I hear her.’”
Hafner’s heart for helping others has led her to the college’s Rotaract Club, a Rotary-sponsored service organization, as well as Panther Readers, a group of LaGrange College students who help tutor children in reading in the local after-school programs.
When she graduates next spring, she will continue to pursue her passion for service, though she’s still deciding which of two paths she will take.
“On one hand, I want to go to graduate school, study special education and become a teacher,” she says. “But on the other, I really want to go into the Peace Corps because it’s a great opportunity to travel and help people at the same time; you get to do something positive in your life while having an enjoyable experience in another country.”
Whatever her future holds, Hafner says the faculty have prepared her well.
“My professors at LaGrange College are very interested in who we are and what we want to do with our lives,” she says.
“My adviser is amazing; she’ll give me her opinion when I tell her what I want to do. It’s a college where professors truly get to know you, tell you what you’re good at, or say, ‘Hey, you’re slipping here.’ That’s very important to me.”
Living on her own for the first time has been an important life lesson for Hafner, she says, one that has taught her self-motivation and responsibility.
“Being away from my father and siblings all the time has changed me and taught me to be more independent,” Hafner says. “In college, you have to learn to do things on your own. You don’t have someone else to motivate you; you have to motivate yourself. If you have to do an assignment, no one is there to coax you to do it. You have to have personal accountability.”
Hafner also learned an important life lesson from her mother, who passed away when Hafner was only 12. Before she died from complications from an upper respiratory infection and pneumonia, she wrote a letter in her diary to Hafner in her last days.
“If I ever get really down, I read her letter,” Hafner says. “She wrote down all the qualities she saw in me, and she told me to be sure to remember that beauty comes from inside you. It always comes from within. Your life is measured by the way you treat people.”