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Undergraduate Student Spotlight: Pursuing Passion

Headshot photo of Autumn Hall

“Try as much as you can,” is Autumn Hall’s advice for students trying to find their way in college.

“For me, finding my passion has come from trying as many things as I can and really learning what I want to do with my life,” she said.

Hall was confident about her direction when she first arrived at UT as part of the prestigious 1794 Scholars Program.

“I was one hundred percent dead set on going into law school,” she said. “Then I started talking to friends who are interning at law firms and started hearing from lawyers. I was in a law fraternity for a couple of years, and I realized, I don’t know if that’s actually what I want to do.”

Then a freshman class in Early American Literature with Professor Katy Chiles helped open her eyes to a future in English.

“It helped me see that there were other options than law,” said Hall.

That class ultimately led Hall to one of her many current academic extracurriculars. As digital media editor for the journal Early American Literature, she’s responsible for maintaining social media pages and posts and is working on developing the journal’s companion podcast. In the spring, she will conduct interviews with early American scholars about their book publications.

Simultaneously, Hall is a tutor at the Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center and copyeditor for the student-run newspaper the Daily Beacon. Last year she served as the paper’s news editor, a job she loved, but decided to take a step back from to make room for other opportunities, such as an unexpected new internship at the Tennessee Valley Authority. She says the offer from TVA came out of the blue, but it’s not hard to understand how she caught their attention.

“I’ve been leading meetings of fifty-plus people, and I’m a natural introvert, so it’s definitely out of my comfort zone,” said Hall of her TVA role. “But I think it’s helped me to grow a lot. I’ve learned a lot of new skills that I wouldn’t have learned in the classroom about interpersonal communication and leadership.”

While leadership roles may not have been something she ever saw herself in, they’ve become more and more a part of who she is. As vice president of UT’s Leading Women of Tomorrow, Hall has been instrumental in forging ties between female undergraduates at UT and professional women working in many different fields within the community.

This year she will participate in the National Humanities Leadership Council, a highly competitive program that annually selects around twenty top students nationwide who have demonstrated considerable humanities-based leadership skills.

How does Hall manage all this as a student—and double-majoring in political science, by the way?

“I actually consider myself to be a really disorganized person,” she said. “I’m just really good at prioritizing the things I care about. So, I think a lot of it has to do with allocating your time to what you do find passion in.”