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Meagan McNeely Receives Michael Emory Award from Mars Hill University

Emory Mc NeelyWhile most college students are enjoying time off from classes during the summer months, Mars Hill University student Meagan McNeely is spending the summer between her junior and senior years helping to care for abandoned infants at the Door of Hope ministry in Johannesburg, South Africa. The choice of how to spend her summer says something about the kind of young woman she is, and why she was chosen as the 2015 recipient of the Michael Emory Award at Mars Hill University.

McNeely, a rising senior religion major from Lenoir, NC, received the award at the Community Service Convocation this spring at Mars Hill University.

The Michael Emory Award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates Christ-like compassion, loyalty and service to the economically, socially or emotionally oppressed and diligent pursuit of truth and justice, even when such pursuit may be unpopular. The award is given in honor of “Big Mike” Emory, Mars Hill College class of ’94, whose life exemplified the criteria of the award. “Big Mike” was in seminary preparing for a life of ministry when a tragic accident led to his untimely death.

According to Professor of Philosophy and Religion Kathy Meacham, who presented the award at the convocation service, McNeely's life exemplifies the award criteria.

"Meagan’s life exhibits the oft-quoted line that justice is the public face of love," Meacham said. "Her work focuses on getting people to recognize inequality and get invested in making sure that those who do not have enough have access to food, education, and a chance for self-determination."

During her time at Mars Hill, McNeely has worked on campus to raise awareness about stopping sexual violence and about promoting women’s empowerment.

As a Bonner scholar, she has volunteered numerous hours to A-Hope Day Shelter in Asheville, NC. She also tutors math to Madison County public school students through the Community in Schools program.

McNeely has been to Haiti numerous times, both before and during her years at Mars Hill. She went on the Christian Student Movement/ Bonner service trip in 2014, led it in 2015, and plans to lead it again in 2016.

When McNeely learned that girls in Haiti often have to drop out of school when they begin their periods, she spearheaded an effort on campus to sew washable, reusable hygiene pads. She recruited over 100 men and women at MHU and at churches around the area to make the pads. When the MHU mission team left for its spring break trip to Haiti in March, it took around 500 pads for girls in Terrier Rouge, Haiti.

Next year, Meagan plans continue this project. She is also leading campus efforts to raise funds to pay for a house in Terrier Rouge for a family that is in desperate need of a permanent housing solution.

In addition to these projects, McNeely is a leader in the MHU Christian Student Movement; she is a First Year Mentor; and she is involved in a movement on campus to raise awareness and work for justice for victims of sexual slavery.