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MSU alum named media coordinator with SOAR

Hanna GabbardMorehead State alum Hanna Gabbard (19) has been named as the digital media coordinator with Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).  

Gabbard earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an emphasis in Regional Analysis and Public Policy as well as a minor in Appalachian Studies at MSU. Gabbard worked for the past year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with SOAR since graduating from MSU. In her new position, she will work to address employment issues in the 54 Kentucky counties served by SOAR, helping small business owners learn to complete globally, work remotely and embrace new trends and technologies. Gabbard will guide SOAR’s communication and digital media reach.  She’ll contribute and be responsible for updating content for SOAR’s various websites and work to compile compelling stories in a variety of formats to highlight the incredible work taking place across the region.

A native of Perry County, Gabbard said she was first inspired to get involved with SOAR after attending the inaugural SOAR Summit while she was in high school.  

“As I sat there surrounded by over a thousand people who believed in our region and wanted to work together to create an economic transition that would allow Appalachia Kentucky to move forward in a self-sustainable way, I knew that I wanted to be part of that,” she said. “I wanted to live and work in this region that means so much to me and create a better Appalachia Kentucky for future generations.”

Gabbard said SOAR served as inspiration for many of her research papers during college and said her field of study prepared her perfectly for her work with SOAR.  

“My government classes allowed me to learn about the intricate way that local, state, and national government works together and how non-profit organizations play a role in that. The Appalachian Studies department was full of awesome, passionate professors that I thoroughly enjoyed learning from. I feel as if I left MSU with a better understanding of our region and the history that still plays a very relevant role in the events of today. Being able to carry this perspective around with me in everything that I do is very valuable,” Gabbard said.  

Gabbard said she found her work as an AmeriCorps VISTA extremely rewarding and encouraged other recent grads to consider participating in the program.

“Serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA in a community is a great way to gain experience, both personally and professionally,” she said. “For someone that is a recent college grad wanting to take a break from school or maybe doesn’t exactly know what path they want to take, it can be a great option.”

For more information on SOAR, visit To learn more about SOAR’s partnerships and impact across the region, visit  

For more information about programs in Morehead State’s Caudill College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, visit, email or call 606-783-2650.