Patrick McClanahan: Former Cougar excels across ‘the pond’

It is natural for parents and grandparents to brag about their kids.  What seems to be unusual though is when kids appreciate and brag about their parents.  In William “Patrick” McClanahan’s case, the family admiration is mutual and much deserved.

McClanahan, who graduated top in his class from Pulaski County High School and Magna Cum Laude from Roanoke College in 2015, applied to prestigious Cambridge University (Clare Hall College) in the United Kingdom where he is currently completing his PhD in Psychology. He anticipates producing his thesis in September 2020.  Clare Hall boasts of six Nobel Laureate graduates, along with graduates serving as heads of state, ambassadors and politicians.

McClanahan’s mother, Vicki Hubble, was an ER nurse so her parents, Buck and Jamie Hubble frequently took care of Patrick as a youngster after school.

4 17 Patrick and Mother
Patrick McClanahan and his mother, Vickie Hubble celebrate his attaining his MPhil at Cambridge University, UK

Grandmother Jamie remarked, “Patrick was a very good student, always consciencious – making sure he got everything right.  But he is also somebody who is a lot of fun, not just studious.  I’m not surprised that he is where he is now.  He has always been very helpful to us and polite. He was always there if we needed him. He is very loving to his family to other people and other students.  Frequently, he would take up for the underdog.  Lots of kids go away and forget about their family at home, but Patrick keeps in touch with us.  He calls us and we FaceTime together.”

Vickie Hubble reflects a mother’s pride when she talks about her son, stating, “I knew he was very intelligent from the very beginning.” She recounts several stories about how Patrick loved to read, play video games, work crossword puzzles with his grandmother and build things with Legos.  Later during his Roanoke College studies, where he double majored in criminal justice and psychology, he would resurrect the giant container of his childhood Legos and use them to help mentor kids with disabilities and behavioral issues.

In high school, McClanahan was class president four years in row.  In his senior year he was nominated homecoming king, Most Valuable Cougar and spoke at his 2011 graduation.

According to his mother, earlier in his educational pursuits, McClanahan had aspirations of being a federal profiler, so he had to take numerous criminal justice courses.  While a junior at Roanoke College, he did an internship with juvenile delinquents in Salem and fell in love with the juvenile delinquent population.

This desire to help young people with behavioral issues culminated in earning a master’s degree with Distinction from Cambridge in 2017.  His thesis focused on decision-making of juvenile offenders. He also became part of the Policy Research Group at Cambridge University.

McClanahan presented his published article during a Psychology Conference held in New Orleans at Mardi Gras 2020.  The article title is: “Decision-making Styles Mediate the Relationship Between Trait Self-Control and Reported Criminal Behavior.”

In working with young people, he likes to incorporate novel methodologies such as Virtual Reality into his work.

“I, alongside the help of other researchers, have devised a variety of social dilemma scenarios with real actors and participants, then experience in a fully immersive head unit, with headphones and all. They then have to select what they would do throughout the situation.  Kind of like that Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror on Netflix,” McClanahan explains.

But McClanahan is not all work and no play – so upon his arrival at Cambridge, he decided to take up team rowing.  He explains, “When I first came to Cambridge I wanted to make the absolute most of my time here and, having always been active in my life, I thought I should try some type of sport that was unique to the area.  Rowing just seemed like an amazing opportunity to stay active, do something ‘cambridgey.’”

Although he had absolutely no experience (other than incorrectly using a rowing machine at the Pulaski YMCA) McClanahan’s primary position was as the “storke” (person who sets the rowing tempo).  The following year, he was promoted to captain.

“That year when I was captain, we
(Clare Hall Men’s First Boat) won blades and May Bumps, moving up five positions, the best performance in 11 years.”  For those of us on this side of “the pond,” that means they took first place in an extremely competitive rowing season.  The trophy was a rowing oar with their names on it permanently displayed at the college.

“The benefits of rowing are endless, especially for students,” he noted. “First and foremost is the physical
activity, which leads to cardiovascular and muscular endurance. I have never done a more demanding sport than rowing. You are essentially doing 34 deadlifts (race-pace) a minute, for 8 to 12 minutes. Furthermore, you have to have 8 guys do exactly the same thing, down to the micromovements, to have the best speed. Rowing is about efficiency, not power, and to be efficient, you must be in sync, like a symphony. Plus, you meet some of your best friends for life the moment you step inside a shell (boat).”

McClanahan surprised his mother on her birthday, which was when he and his rowing team won the May Bumps, by video recording the team singing Happy Birthday to her.

Vickie Hubble confesses, “I didn’t understand how much God loved me until I had Patrick.  He has been a blessing to me in every way.  Besides my salvation, he is my richest blessing.”

NOTE: McClanahan’s love and concern for others is apparent in many aspects of his academic career and life. Most recently, he decided to reach out to high school and undergraduate college students, offering to help tutor them in psychology (particularly social psychology) free of charge online because they may not be getting the one-to-one support they need right now due to the pandemic. If a student is interested in receiving tutoring from McClanahan, please contact The Patriot at



Patrick on faith:

“As many of you know in Pulaski we are raised in the best blend of faith, fellowship, and community. Church was a staple in the week, sometimes three or four staples in the week.
Through these difficult times it is so important that we remember that church is more than just religion: it was an opportunity to foster trust, relationship, mentorship, warmth, protection, and overall love.
But even more importantly, we must remember that church is nothing more than a building. God does not reside within the walls or the pews, God resides within their people.
We the people, have the same ability, no the responsibility, to foster that trust, relationship, mentorship, warmth, protection, and overall love that God demands of us with or without the walls of the church.
If my time away and travels has taught me anything it is that God knows no physical barrier and to believe a church was a requirement for any of the above would be an insult.
Now more than ever we need to be slower, more understanding, more compassionate. We need to be mindful and live purposefully.
I recently read a great article that described the current circumstances as a natural pause that we will never get to experience again. Once life hits play again, the commercial world is going to throw all of these things at you again, telling you that you need them, because having them will make you feel normal again.
But we now have the once in a lifetime ability to say, ‘do I actually need that?” Do I actually need a coffee from a huge corporation when I can support my local cafe? Do I actually need this cheap t-shirt that will get worn once and then ruined, or should I buy something more sustainable and long-lasting?
We can now choose what we put back into our lives once the play button is hit again, and I hope that we choose to put back in love, compassion, patience, and all of it without walls.”

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