Teen strives to affect change
Through her exploration of everything from politics and public policy to calculus and history, Hancock has developed a real love for the humanities. Art, literature, philosophy, history - she loves it all.

On Paducah Tilghman's academic team, she's the go-to humanities nut. For speech competitions she's developed a mental list of books with themes or quotes that can apply to different topics, which allows her to tie her love of literature, history and philosophy into almost any speech she delivers.

"What I like about the humanities so much is that there are stories to it," Hancock said. "I love thinking about the actual living, breathing people who had a hand in this stuff. It's a connection between you and other points in history. That's what I like about it so much."

Meg Hancock, daughter of Sid and Justin Hancock and a senior at Paducah Tilghman, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. Each Monday, The Sun features a different teen selected from nominees submitted by school counselors across western Kentucky and southern Illinois. Next spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year will receive a $2,500 scholarship.

Hancock is humble for a young person who's accomplished so much at such a young age.

She's earned numerous awards for her achievements in English and history, she's been the state champ in the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English State Writing Contest for four years running, she earned President Barack Obama's Gold Level Volunteer Service Award, she was named a Duchess of Paducah by Mayor Gale Kaler for her community service, and she's currently tied for first in her class at Tilghman with a 4.333 GPA.

Still, she doesn't take herself too seriously, and still unabashedly "geeks out" when she talks about a book she loves or an idea she's passionate about.

Hancock isn't exactly sure yet what she'd like to do with this passion of hers. She'll attend a four-year university next fall (she's still waiting to hear back from her top choices). She's leaning toward majoring in politics or public policy with possible minors in English, history or literature. She has no interest in becoming a politician, she said, but she's absolutely interested in the political process and affecting change for the better.

"As much as the political system now seems so convoluted, I'm hopeful that there's a way we can take the modern world, modern media and modern ideology with the political values and patriotism of the past," Hancock said. "And I know lots of people say, it's not like our vote matters, but I refuse to believe that." Hancock said she's fully aware of how idealistic and optimistic she sounds, but she's determined to hold onto that outlook, even if she goes into an arena as potentially frustrating as politics.

Two of Hancock's biggest role models - one in the real world, and from the world of literature - are telling.

In real life, her grandmother has inspired her immensely, she said. As head of Tilghman's English department, Hancock's grandmother and she have bonded in sharing their love of literature with others and with each other. In the world of literature, Hancock said she draws so much inspiration from Enjorlas, a minor character in "Les Miserables."

"He's the leader of the barricade boys that falls out the window in the red jacket," she said.

"I know, that sounds so silly. It's a really strange answer, but I always was obsessed with that character, because he has this idealism that's so infectious that he gets all these teenage boys to build a barricade and try to start a war. And that fails miserably, but he tried," she said.

"That's the type of fervor I want to emulate. Being so passionate and idealistic and committed to something that you would fall out a window for it."

Contact Genevieve Postlethwait, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651.
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