The woman behind Hannah’s Women (still) finds inspiration at VCU

Lucy Hudson
Lucy Hudson

Some people come to college, get their degree and leave. That’s not Lucy Hudson (B.S.’04/H&S; B.A.’08/H&S; M.Ed.’11/E).

“Sometimes I ask myself why I’m still here. It’s a hard question to answer,” says Hudson, assistant to the chair of the Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences.

This three-time graduate has been at VCU for 14 years and says she has “no plans on leaving any time soon.”

Hudson, who has bachelor’s degrees in urban studies and religious studies and a master’s in education focusing on social literacy, says VCU helped her develop into a leader by giving her the opportunity to work in the community. By studying on an urban campus, she says, she could see social issues and tackle them head on.

“I always wanted to help people succeed and reach their goals. I wanted to get involved and give back,” she says.

In 2007, Hudson started the nonprofit organization Hannah’s Women to help prepare youth living in her hometown of Emporia, Virginia, and in Richmond for the real world and provide them with after-school activities.

She says she was fortunate enough to grow up in a neighborhood where there was a community center. “But that’s not how it is in every neighborhood,” she says. “It’s very rural in Emporia. There’s not much for kids to do.”

Using her degree in urban studies to engage with the community and her religious studies to serve as the basis for the organization’s programming, she’s been able to provide structured activities and support for youth and their families.

Hannah’s Women works to improve family literacy by providing mentoring opportunities, tutoring programs and other outreach services. Through her VCU and local connections, Hudson has provided SOL preparation courses, has led students on tours of VCU’s campus and has offered community computing classes, which are promoted as part of the College of Humanities and Sciences’ Great Place Initiative effort.

She also used the skills she learned in her graduate studies to develop Lifeology 101, an adult life coaching class available in both cities.

“We had four people stick through the life planning course to the end. It was intense,” Hudson says. “Two of them ended up getting married and starting their own catering business together. The other two students were inspired by what they learned to go back to school and continue their education.”

In the immediate future, Hudson plans to expand the organization’s life coaching and tutoring efforts. She is also planning a financial aid workshop to prepare students in the Emporia area before college FAFSA applications are due. And that’s not the only thing on her horizon. She’s hoping to start on her Ph.D. in education and open tutoring centers in Emporia and Richmond in the next five years.

“Everyone in the office always tells me that they know I’ll leave VCU someday,” Hudson says. “They aren’t excited about it, but they know I’ll keep moving forward. I haven’t been compelled to leave. Until then, I’ll stay and learn everything I can.”

– Story by Anthony Langley, photo by William Gilbert