Hunter McClure

CAHS graduate Hunter McClure

Courtesy Hunter McClure

A student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of The University of Alabama System, has used the UAH Last-Mile Fund (LMF) to launch his career.

Hunter McClure, like many of us, encountered his share of personal and academic obstacles in 2020; the Last-Mile Fund was there for him to ensure he could still graduate.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAH English major was already struggling to pay tuition and cover basic needs like utilities and rent. His job as a security guard in a factory paid poorly, but it allowed him the time to study. Then McClure was laid off. With the pandemic hitting shortly thereafter, job hunting came to a standstill.

When McClure contracted COVID-19 in April of 2020, he grappled with the fatigue associated with the illness. “I was unable to do anything more than type the name and date on my papers,” he says. “I was forced to take an incomplete for two of my classes.” As a result, McClure was unsure he’d be able to complete his degree. “During my last semester at UAH, I was worried my academic work would suffer. At one point, I considered dropping out of my Kierkegaard course so that I could redirect tuition money towards keeping food on my family’s table.”

By the time McClure recovered, his fiancée was sick with COVID-19 herself and required his help. McClure received some money from the CARES Act, but that was short-lived, and he wasn’t eligible for federal stimulus checks because he was a dependent student. Job opportunities that offered flexible work schedules were non-existent. McClure was forced to seek assistance from his mother, but she was also financially strained due to her husband being out of work.

That’s where the Last-Mile Fund provided much-needed assistance. UAH’s Last-Mile Fund covers school-related expenses for undergraduate students who experience financial hardship in the last semesters before graduation. For students like McClure, this fund is a lifeline. The fund’s assistance allowed the English major to graduate on time and receive a fellowship to work for First Things magazine in Manhattan, NY.

“Three months after graduation, on the strength of a writing sample from the very course that I had once considered dropping, I was admitted to the Junior Fellowship at First Things, a magazine published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life.” This opportunity provided McClure with the experience to break into professional editing.

Today, McClure is studying at the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College, a Great Books school in Santa Fe, NM; this destination has been a dream since he discovered the College at 19, and McClure thanks the Last-Mile Fund for helping him get there. “I plan to go on to a Ph.D. in Political Theory and then enter classical education,” he says. “Without the LMF, the direction of my life would be substantially different.”

Donate to LMF