Lorraine Hayes – Philosophy


Ben Conroy, Print Managing Editor

Lorraine Hayes’ hometown of Johnson City, Tenn. is home to a culture far different from that of Winston-Salem. For this reason, it was a leap of faith for her to choose to attend Wake Forest. In the end, the lure of a full scholarship and the appeal of remaining within three hours of her hometown proved too sweet to pass up.

“My mentor [for the scholarship] went to Wake Forest,” Hayes said. “I thought, okay, maybe I should branch out. I [also] wanted to be able to drive home whenever I needed freshman year … I’m the first person from my town that’s come to Wake Forest.”

Like many students, Hayes’ academic career has followed an entirely different trajectory than she initially planned. After a period of trial and error, she discovered the subject and major that would come to define the rest of her time on the Reynolda campus — philosophy.

“Freshman year, I took a couple of science classes,” she said, “[but] I was more attracted to helping people and learning about people … I quickly realized the sciences weren’t for me.”

What resonates most with Hayes about the subject of philosophy is how it can be applied to so many aspects of the world around us. Though it may not always be readily apparent, Hayes learned through the various classes she took just how intertwined philosophy is with the human condition.

“I took … Philosophy of Emotions, and it showed me how philosophy can be used in day-to-day life to solve personal issues,” Hayes recalled.

The instructor of that class, Professor Francisco Gallegos, was one of Hayes’ most influential mentors within the major, and she’s incredibly appreciative of how he helped her find her footing when she’d just begun to explore the subject matter. The feeling of admiration was mutual, as Professor Gallegos spoke highly of Hayes and all she’s accomplished.

“Lorraine is one of the most well-rounded students I have had the chance to work with,” Gallegos said. “She is an excellent writer with a sharp, analytical mind. Power with heart — that is Lorraine in a nutshell.”

However, Lorraine’s accomplishments extend beyond the classroom; she’s involved in a plethora of extracurricular organizations and activities, including the Pan-Hellenic Diversity and Inclusion Council and Habitat for Humanity. Hayes cited her affiliation with these organizations as a way to stay true to her roots and her heritage while still broadening her horizons.

“When you come to Wake, you want to hold onto the parts of you that feel like home,” she said. “It’s been really cool to talk to other kids with similar yet different experiences than me.”

As it did for all of us, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic threw Hayes for a loop. Even so, she was able to lean on the connections she’d established earlier in her collegiate career and make the most of her final year as an undergraduate student at Wake Forest.

“A senior year with COVID was [something] no one saw coming,” she said. “I’m very thankful for the friendships and relationships I’ve made.”

As graduation looms just around the corner, Hayes noted that it’s the little things about life at Wake Forest, such as studying with friends or spending time outdoors, that she’ll remember the most fondly.

“During finals, my friends and I always rent out a couple rooms in Tribble and literally live there for three or four days,” she said. “I think that’s one of [my favorite memories]. And being on the quad. I’m going to miss that.”

After graduation, Hayes intends to pursue a law degree from Boston College, where she was recently accepted. Even as she shifts gears from philosophy, she’ll continue to carry with her all she’s learned from the time she spent studying the subject.

“Professor Gallegos phrased it like this: ‘Philosophy makes the familiar strange and the strange familiar,’” he said. “I really appreciate the new perspectives I have been given and the tools philosophy gives you to unpack the way the world works.”