Heather Hawn, a first-generation college student from Burlington, NC, earned her B.A. in philosophy and communication from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 1992. After working in banking for two years, she attended law school, earning her J.D. in 1997 from Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, where she became active in local and state-wide politics.
She practiced employment law for 10 years in Raleigh, NC, but her increasing love of politics, and the events of 9/11, led her to pursue her Ph.D. in political science at the University of South Carolina, defending her dissertation in 2011. Heather was inspired to focus on international relations and comparative politics because of her interactions with immigrant families in her pro bono legal practice and frequent travel to foreign destinations. Her dissertation, entitled “La Ruta Maya: The Effects of Tourism and The State on the Political Behavior Choices of the Maya,” required her to live and travel extensively in Guatemala and Mexico where she conducted her field research in rural and urban indigenous communities.
Prior to joining Mars Hill, Heather taught many classes at the University of South Carolina, including in the prestigious Honors College program and courses required for ROTC students. She always wanted to teach at a liberal arts college in a small classroom environment in which she could engage with students one on one and have a direct impact on their education and so returning to North Carolina to teach at Mars Hill was a perfect fit.
Her teaching and research interests include International Politics, National Security, US Foreign Policy, Economic and Social Development, and Conflict Resolution. She is published in several peer-reviewed journals including Latin American Perspectives, European Political Science, and the Journal of General Education. She is working collaboratively with her political science colleagues at other institutions on upcoming publications as well. Heather started MHU’s award-winning Model United Nations program which competes at the Southern Regional Model United Nations conference every spring. She was so successful in preparing her students for this challenge, that SRMUN requested that she conduct a seminar for new faculty seeking to get their programs off the ground.
Heather is also very active at Mars Hill where she is an advisor to several campus groups including Mars Hill College Republicans, Democrats, and the political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha. She is the chair of the political science program and advises pre-law students.
After a few years of advising students interested in careers in the law, she recognized that, since many MHU students are first-generation with little contact with lawyers and paralegals, she created the Pre-Law Studies minor with a focus on the student who wants a career in the law but does not know how to start. She provides the direction and support students often need to get admitted to law school and has been known to help them even after they are in their first or second years!
Heather also sponsors several campus events ranging from election night viewing parties and political candidate debates to Constitution Day celebrations and “Puppy Day” to raise funds for rescued animals in Madison Community. She is a member of the American Political Science Association, the Southern Political Science Association, the World Affairs Council and several philanthropic organizations too numerous to list.
Heather’s personal interests are animal protection, veganism, cooking, running, reading, talking about politics, international travel, and going to the beach with her rescue dogs Cricket and Piper.