“Whatever you do, do not stop, because, regardless, a medal does not determine your passion for your craft. The way you develop it does.” – Hannah Sawyerr
Hannah Sawyerr was a 2014 national ACT-SO bronze medalist. She graduated from North Brunswick Township High School in North Brunswick Township, New Jersey in 2014. She is now a rising senior at Morgan State University where she has a major in English. She loves being surrounded by good company and enjoys attending open mics and going to cafes in her free time. Hannah was initially attracted to the ACT-SO program because she was drawn into the captivating idea of being able to learn from and interact with people who are passionate about their craft.
Hannah competed in the Poetry category of the 2014 local New Brunswick ACT-SO competition where she received a gold medal. She then advanced to the national ACT-SO competition in Las Vegas, Nevada where she placed as a bronze medalist in the Poetry category for her poem, For Girls Growing Into Their Hips.
Favorite Part about ACT-SO
Hannah’s favorite part about the ACT-SO program was the friendships she created along the way: “What I love about the New Brunswick Area Branch is the fact that the environment that was created made it easy for everyone to joke and laugh and create genuine friendships. High school is tough, but my ACT-SO family created a safe and loving environment for me to escape to every week.”
An important lesson that Hannah learned from participating in the ACT-SO program was that her circumstances do not have to break her. Her senior year of high school was a difficult year for her; however, it was the same year that her love for her craft and its importance was reaffirmed by being an ACT-SO participant. ACT-SO reassured Hannah that her talent is indeed unique and significant, and it deserves to be shared with the world.
Hannah’s faith in her poetic gifts was confirmed through her experience with ACT-SO. Throughout the program, she had friends and mentors who had the utmost belief in the power and impact of her work. She met individuals who not only motivated her academically and creatively, but personally: “The amount of people that truly believed in what I had to say and the importance of my voice always amazes me. I still have mentors that I’ve met through the ACT-SO program that check up on me and that I can call if I’m ever in need.” The friends and mentors that Hannah met through this program have taught her that her dreams are not unrealistic, but rather they are attainable through hard work and resilience.
A Dream Come True
One of Hannah’s biggest dreams has always been to become a Youth Poet Laureate and publish a book. She remembers having a conversation with one of her ACT-SO mentors where she shared this dream of hers with him. She also told herself that if she was ever fortunate enough to receive a book deal, she would title the book after her award-winning ACT-SO poem, For Girls Growing Into Their Hips. Less than three years later, Hannah was named the 2016 Youth Poet Laureate of Baltimore and represented the city of Baltimore on a local and national level through the program. She earned a book deal from Penmanship Books and will be publishing her first poetry book, For Girls Growing Into Their Hips, this upcoming fall.
Words of Wisdom
“DO. NOT. STOP. 2014 was the second year [that] I competed in ACT-SO; however, it was the first year [that] I received a gold medal and advanced to represent the state at the national competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whatever you do, do not stop, because, regardless, a medal does not determine your passion for your craft. The way you develop it does.” – Hannah Sawyerr