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winter 2018
Laura Thomson McCarty header

Atlanta power player — Laura Thomson McCarty ’88

Making connections

Laura Thomson McCarty ’88 came to Wofford planning to follow a pre-med track. Instead, she discovered an aptitude for making connections across disciplines — between art and politics, history and religion, literature and cultures.

“It was spring, the dogwoods were blooming and George Martin’s 17th century poetry class spoke to me more than botany,” says McCarty, who went to the University of Georgia after graduation to pursue a Ph.D. in comparative literature.

Now she makes connections for a living — a skill she says came out of her experiences at Wofford — as president of Georgia Humanities. Georgia Humanities is a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities that works to preserve and promote the cultural stories, treasures and values of the state.

“I always knew that I wanted something that would let me keep learning,” she says. “Working in the humanities lets me do that.”

According to McCarty, there is always something new to read or think about or do.  Over the past few months she has mentored National History Day students at middle and high schools across the state, attended exhibition openings, visited university campuses to help scholars with their project ideas, considered team-building strategies and met with board members to discuss new partnerships and funding opportunities.

More and more McCarty finds herself fascinated by history. In 2006, she was asked to write the article on Coretta Scott King for the New Georgia Encyclopedia ( and has since written a reference biography on King for public libraries and schools.

“It was intimidating to summarize the accomplishments of this amazing woman, but the experience built my confidence and has led to continued research, writing and engagement in public history,” says McCarty, who has served as president of the Georgia Council for Social Studies and president of the Georgia Association of Historians.

For McCarty, Wofford is a part of her history, as well as her present and future. Her father, the late Henry Mann Thomson Jr., was Class of 1950, and her sisters, Rebecca Thomson Blake ’90 and Mary Jane Thomson ’94, also carried on the family tradition. She occasionally returns to campus for Homecoming but is an avid fan of the Terriers via the internet. More recently, she has been participating in the Wofford online alumni book club.

“I love seeing a Wofford sticker in Georgia,” she says. “I’m really proud to be a Wofford alum here in Atlanta.”

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington '89