Haylynn Gaunt headshot

Haylynn Gaunt, Master of Liberal Arts

May 2, 2023

SPCS Commencement Feature

Kaylynn Copper née Gaunt is the 2023 recipient of the Daniel McDonald Roberts and Frances Taylor Roberts Master of Liberal Arts Memorial Book Award. She is a 25-year-old owner and manager of Golf Park Coffee in Lynchburg who started the Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) program at SPCS in fall 2019. She graduated from Liberty University in 2018 with a bachelor of arts in history and wanted to pursue history studies further at a school with a developed public history program.

We asked Gaunt to answer several questions that we regularly pose to graduating students as they complete their programs of study. Here are Gaunt’s responses in her own words.

Why did you decide to return to school?

I finished my bachelor’s degree in December of 2018 and wanted to take some time off of school to focus on work and to explore my options. I have always enjoyed learning and knew that I eventually wanted to continue my education, but never expected to jump back in so quickly. The University of Richmond and the public history program just felt like such a great fit for me that I was able to commit to starting the following August.

Why did you choose SPCS and the University of Richmond for your degree program?

I was recommended to the University of Richmond by many of my professors and knew that, if I were to pursue a master’s, it would be there. The public history focus for my MLA was a huge part of my draw to the University as it seemed to combine the educational side of history that I loved with a practical way to implement it into my community.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced as an adult student?

The biggest challenge for me was the long commute from Lynchburg as well as the time commitment that a degree requires. When I first started I was driving right from work over two hours to go to class, driving straight home after and then continuing to work the next day. Juggling working full time with relationships and schooling was very difficult, but so worth it.

What’s the thing you like best about studying your major?

I loved the professors the most! They introduced me to a lot of professionals in my field and encouraged us to explore and question our materials. The class options in my major were all so interesting and not necessarily areas that I thought I would study, but I am glad to have been pushed to further round out my knowledge.

Tell us about the faculty you’ve had.

Dr. Greenan and Dr. Kachurek both made a large impact on my degree and my time with the University. Both women were encouraging and kind, but also just clearly brilliant people. I so enjoyed working with them and their feedback meant a lot to me.

What have you learned about yourself as an SPCS student?

I have learned that I really enjoy schooling! I so enjoyed getting to learn from the different professors on a wide range of topics that I didn’t think would interest me at first.

What will you miss most about being a University of Richmond student?

I will miss working and hearing from fellow students the most! I certainly benefited from having discussions on our subject matter whether those were online or in person.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you reach this milestone?

My husband Clayton pushed me to apply back in 2019 and I wouldn’t have been able to finish this degree without his sacrifice and encouragement.

What does graduation mean to you?

Graduation means I can enjoy my lunch breaks instead of squeezing in homework! But, in all seriousness this accomplishment feels so incredible and I am proud of the work I have put in to finish strong. This University is serious about its education, and it means so much to have that diploma

In the future, Gaunt hopes use the MLA degree to teach or continue research in her local community.

She’ll graduate on May 6, 2023, with a Master of Liberal Arts degree.