Union’s Harless awarded ACA research scholarship

Published on
February 26, 2016

Union’s Harless awarded ACA research scholarship Union College’s Emily Morgan Harless has been selected as the recipient of an Appalachian College Association (ACA) Colonel Lee. B. Ledford Scholarship.

The Ledford Scholarship offers financial assistance for students enrolled at ACA member institutions to conduct summer research in the the fields of laboratory and field work; interviews; analyzing special collections and participant observation. Harless joins students from 14 other ACA schools who were honored with the scholarship.

“I am extremely grateful for this incredible opportunity to spend my summer doing what I love and giving back to my Appalachian home,” Harless said.

The Ledford Scholarship provides stipends for the research students as well as an allotment for equipment and travel. Applicants must have the support of a faculty member who will agree to serve as a mentor. Harless, an English major from Ashland, KY, will be mentored by Dr. Jimmy Smith, Chair of the English Department. Dr. David Johns, Union’s Vice-President of Academic Affairs, supported Harless’ scholarship proposal with a referral letter to the ACA.

Harless said her scholarship will be used to research Appalachian literary culture and how Appalachian literature reflects the hardships faced by communities – especially concerning drug abuse.

“I will then use the knowledge I gain from my research to create a theatrical production – in conjunction with Union’s project Facing Addiction – that highlights the impact drug abuse has on the local and regional community,” Harless said. “I do all of this in hope it will stimulate conversations regarding the issue and perhaps encourage members of the community to invest themselves in finding solutions.”

The Union College Facing Addiction project was the result of community roundtables on drug addiction and a strong partnership between the college and Operation Unite. In 2014, a book was published highlighting stories of those in the community impacted by drug abuse. The next phase of the project will include moving those stories from printed page to the theatre stage.  

Students from diverse discipline fields - English, sociology, history, biology, computer science and religious studies - have utilized the Ledford Scholarship. In addition, research proposals with a strong service component are supported by the ACA.

The Appalachian College Association is a non-profit consortium of 35 private four-year liberal arts institutions spread across the central Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Collectively these higher education institutions serve over 54,000 students.