Valdosta Daily Times

March 11, 2013

Brewing an exceptional life

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Megan Hunnicutt loves maps.

“And globes,” said Hunnicutt. “Growing up, I had a big cardboard book full of maps of the world. I still know where all the capitals are.”

As a kid, Hunnicutt went to class one day with her uncle, who was studying to be an architect. Finding herself in a room surrounded by model houses and architecture projects, it wasn't long before Hunnicutt started designing houses, scribbling designs on napkins at dinner.

It is her love of maps and building design that led her to study environmental geosciences at Valdosta State University.

“I want to do urban and regional planning,” said Hunnicutt. “It's a combination of architecture, engineering, and art."

An urban planner can find themselves doing any number of things: research, design, consulting, implementation. A planner might work for a small town or a metropolis, might design a block or an entire skyline, might find themselves living, well, anywhere.

Which suits Hunnicutt just fine. A Valdosta resident since the fourth grade, she's looking forward to the chance to explore other places.

“After graduation, I might just point to a place on the map and move,” said Hunnicutt. “I want to do something I love, something I'm passionate about. Life is short, but it can be pretty long. You might as well be doing something you love.”

For now, she's happy to live in Valdosta with her dog, Elle May, finishing her degree, and working at Starbucks.

"It's a great company,” said Hunnicutt. “Where else can you get full benefits working 20 hours a week? On top of tuition reimbursement and stock options.”

Before starting work at Starbucks, Hunnicutt didn't drink, like, or know anything about coffee. Now, she is what can only be described as an enthusiast.

“I have actually had to switch to decaf in the afternoons. ... I'm like an old lady now.”

As a shift manager, she takes her job seriously.

“We really have a responsibility ... a power to make or break someone's day,” said Hunnicutt. “It's up to us to make their day.”

Slinging out coffee to local regulars and travelers stopping off the Interstate and St. Augustine can get stressful, especially during holidays. When that happens, Hunnicutt goes fishing, or golfing, or yoga-ing.

“Yoga is about centering yourself,” said Hunnicutt. “And golf gives me a chance to think and reflect on life. I've really learned that you've got to take time in life to make yourself happy, to do things that make you happy ... and happiness is contagious.”

Megan Hunnicutt is a mix of seeming contradictions. A woman who loves her family — her grandfather who taught her to fish, her dad who taught her to golf, her mom, her uncle, her brother — but looks forward to moving to a new place, a new city where she can make her own designs. A woman who is equally comfortable fishing, golfing, or crafting lattes. A coffee connoisseur who prefers straight espresso, a student who does her best learning out of the classroom.

“I don't consider myself an artist,” said Hunnicutt. “But sometimes I like to watercolor. I just throw water on the canvas and see where the color goes.”