Anna (McLaughlin) Hazard, BA ’10

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Anna (McLaughlin) Hazard, BA ’10, was interviewed by Kaitlyn Altman, an honors student pursuing a creative writing major and theatre minor.

Ohio Northern University honors students are an eclectic group with talents and passions spanning across many majors and fields of study. This was true for Anna Hazard, who graduated in 2010 with a double major in youth ministry and theatre and a minor in Spanish.

Anna put her talents and skills to good use at ONU in organizations like Theta Alpha Phi (theatre fraternity), Mortarboard, and Habitat for Humanity. She explained that she chose ONU for reasons both practical and spiritual. She had been struggling with questions about her faith and knew going to a large state school would enable her to ignore her faith. However, at ONU, where a chapel is at the center of campus, she could confront her questions and ultimately make her faith her own. 

For students with majors and minors that are only loosely connected, Anna’s story is an inspiration. She studied, she explained, “what I loved, what I tested out of, and what I thought I was being called to do.”

With such a unique combination of passions and skills, however, determining a career path can be tricky. Anna said that when people would ask her what she planned to do after graduation, she’d jokingly respond: “I’ll probably be living in a cardboard box in a big city somewhere, with majors like youth ministry and theatre.”

But Anna carved out a career path that incorporates her many talents and abilities. She participated in youth ministry internships, acted in short films in Los Angeles, volunteered and been employed as a Guardian ad Litem at ProKids, and now works in prevention at a non-profit in Cincinnati called Beech Acres.

Beech Acres partners with schools to equip teachers and students with social-emotional skills and tools through a curriculum the organization created. In her current position, Anna uses her theater skills when giving professional development training. Although she does not work with children every day, her love for children and genuine desire to see them thrive fuels her work at Beech Acres. And, her Spanish skills are useful when working with schools with a large population of Spanish-speaking students.

As a creative writing major and theatre minor, I am often asked the same questions about my future that Anna was asked. Hearing about her journey, in which she has been able to incorporate her many passions, gave me a sense of confidence about my future. 

Anna and I also discussed our shared love of ONU. She said, “I loved the fountains and ponds and mud volleyball pits and the studio theater and main stage. I loved the dance room, and spent some of my best and hardest moments there.”

Having taken a tap class, I can relate to Anna’s feelings about the dance room. We also shared stories about the theatre program. Anna spent much of her time onstage and I have recently found a new passion in the role of stage manager. In addition to her work with Beech Acres, Anna acts in semi-professional theatre throughout the Cincinnati area. She listed off ten productions she has been involved in since the pandemic. 

Photo of Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn Altman interviewed Anna for this story

One of Anna’s main takeaways from her time in the Honors Program was a lesson on perfection and failure imparted by the program’s advisor at the time.

“I was uncomfortable with any kind of failure, because it meant to me that I was not enough, and that I wasn’t what I should be,” she said.

However, her advisor gave her advice that has stuck with Anna into adulthood. She now passes this on to current honors student. “Practice failing on purpose (because you’re trying something new or purposefully challenging yourself outside of your comfort zone). For someone like me who…always played safely and accepted challenges that I knew I could achieve, failing was not a familiar or fun or acceptable situation…but the reality is, we need to be comfortable with failure, because it happens all the time in big and little ways, and we will not go through life without it.”